GERMANY: Open access operator Hamburg-Köln Express expects to launch revenue services between the two cities on July 23, having opened its ticket sales channels on July 4.

HKX will initially operate one train per day from Monday to Wednesday in competition with Deutsche Bahn, serving six intermediate stations. Over the busier leisure travel period from Thursday to Sunday, three train pairs will operate, including a late night HKX-Mitternachts-Express on Sundays which reaches Hamburg at 01.00 the following morning.

HKX has promised that fares will be highly competitive, ranging from €20 to €60 with a strong emphasis on advance purchase tickets. Offering an end-to-end journey from Hamburg Altona to Köln Hbf of ‘around 4 h’, HKX says its services will be as fast as DB.

Having previously planned to use refurbished former ÖBB Class 4010 EMU trailers as loco-hauled stock, HKX now says that its launch services will be formed of former Rheingold coaches, to recreate the ‘first class style of inter-city travel’. Its additional weekend services will be formed of coaches hired in from Veolia Verkehr subsidiary Nord-Ostsee Bahn. Veolia has been contracted by HKX to operate its trains and provide locomotives; it is expected that a fleet of leased Siemens EuroSprinter electric locomotives will be used for traction.