DB AG’s Regio Netze are joint businesses run by DB Regio and DB Netz.

The model for this concept was the Kurhessenbahn in Kassel, followed by the SüdostBayernBahn based in Mühldorf, which is the largest operation to date. Then came the Schwarzatalbahn with the Oberweissbacher Bergbahn in Thüringen and the Erzgebirgsbahn based in Chemnitz in southern Sachsen. Taken together, these four operations clock up around 10 million train-km a year under long-term contracts. DB RegioNetz Verkehrs AG, the umbrella organisation in charge, is thus one of the leading suppliers of regional rail services.

Three of the original projects have not materialised - the Burgenland network in Sachsen-Anhalt, the Karower network in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and the Odenwald network in Hessen. However, the WestFrankenBahn based in Aschaffenburg was established in early 2006 to form a fifth Regio Netz.

As with the former Federal Railway, under the Regio Netz concept the operations and infrastructure are managed by a single entity. This has been welcomed by local authorities, councillors and mayors as they have a single partner for dealing with vehicles, timetables, routes and stations. This has given the railway a good image at local level, reaping a useful harvest.

Decision-making powers lie with the regional authority, allowing service levels to be matched to demand and arrangements made to cope with local requirements that may not apply elsewhere. Decisions can also be made quickly without reference to a remote administration in Berlin or Frankfurt, allowing a dynamic business attitude that promises financial success.

CAPTION: The Oberweissbacher Bergbahn funicular operates with the Schwarzatalbahn as one of five Regio Netze

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