Pfalznetz Lot 1 Stadler Flirt Akku BEMU impression

GERMANY: DB Regio has been awarded two regional passenger train operating contracts in Rheinland-Pfalz, and has placed an order for 44 Stadler Flirt Akku battery-electric multiple-units to meet a requirement for services on the 240 km partially electrified Pfalznetz Lot 1 network to be converted from diesel to electric-only operation.

The rolling stock agreement announced on November 26 includes the 2 000th Stadler Flirt unit to be ordered. ‘The fact that the 2 000th Flirt vehicle sold is a train powered by alternative and environmentally-friendly drive technology marks a landmark in climate policy’, said Jure Mikolčić, CEO of Stadler Germany.

Lot 1 contract

The Pfalznetz Lot 1 operating contract awarded by transport authority ZSPNV Süd on behalf of the Länder of Rheinland-Pfalz, Saarland and Baden-Württemberg runs for 15 years from December 15 2025 and covers 4·6 train-km million/year.

Pfalznetz Lot 1 map

ZSPNV Süd said this was one of the first large-scale tenders in Germany to specify a switch from diesel to battery vehicles.

The BEMUs are scheduled to enter service between December 2025 and the end of 2026. They will use overhead electrification where it is available for traction power and to charge their batteries, with €50m to be spent to install overhead electric ‘islands’ at Landau, Winden, Pirmasens Nord, Kusel and Lauterecken stations.

Once this is completed, the longest section of line without electrification will be around 48 km, well within the fleet’s off-wire range of least 80 km; Stadler achieved a range of 185 km during testing of a prototype BEMU.

‘In the future, almost all services in southern and western Pflaz will be electric’, said Anne Spiegel, Climate Protection Minister for Rheinland-Pfalz. ‘We are making rail traffic even more environmentally friendly. With the new concept we save approximately 5 million litres of diesel and 64% of CO2 emissions compared to today’s diesel multiple units and based on today’s electricity mix, with locally emission-free operation.

Pfalznet Lot 1 Stadler Flirt Akku BEMU impression interior

‘In order to achieve complete climate neutrality, it is currently being examined whether only green electricity should be used when operations begin. The new electric trains are quieter and more comfortable. This is how we start moving towards a climate-neutral future.’

The two-car units will be 55 m long, with ‘extra long’ cars providing a capacity of 325 passengers, including 16 first and 153 second class seats, a lounge-style seating area and space for pushchairs, wheelchairs and bicycles.

There will be sliding steps to bridge the gap between the trains and the platform edge.

The operating contract envisages some timetable improvements, and studies are underway into double-tracking to remove a bottleneck between Wörth and Winden, which would support additional service improvements but would require federal funding.

Pfalznetz Lot 1 services to be operated using Flirt BEMUs
RE6/RB51 Kaiserslautern – Neustadt/W – Landau – Karlsruhe December 2025
RB68 Saarbrücken – Zweibrücken – Pirmasens December 2025
RE64/RB64 Kaiserslautern – Steinalben – Pirmasens December 2026
RB66 Kaiserslautern – Olsbrücken – Lauterecken-Grumbach December 2026
RB67 Kaiserslautern – Landstuhl – Glan-Münchweiler – Kusel December 2026
RB54 Bad Bergzabern – Winden – Karlsruhe December 2026
RE55/RB55 Landau – Annweiler – Hinterweidenthal – Pirmasens December 2026
RB77 Saarbrücken – Dillingen – Niedaltdorf December 2026

Lot 2 contract

The Lot 2 operating contract runs from December 2023 until June 2037 and covers regional and regional express services between Kaiserslautern, Bad Kreuznach, Bingen and Mainz as well as feeder and seasonal services. These total 1·3 million train-km/year, and an increase in direct train services between Mainz and Kaiserslautern is planned.

Services will initially be operated using the existing Siemens Desiro Class 642 diesel multiple-units, which in 2031-32 will be replaced by Alstom Lint 41 Class 648.3 DMUs currently used in the Nürnberg area.

After June 2037 the Lot 2 services will be combined with Nahetal services, currently operated by Vlexx under a separate contract, with a uniform fleet of emission-free trainsets expected to be introduced.

Climate neutral by 2040

DB wants to be climate neutral by 2040, and ‘alternative drives and fuels are an essential part of achieving this goal’, said Maik Dreser, Chairman of DB Regio Mitte, when the operating contracts were announced.

The BEMU order ‘will enable us to replace diesel drives with low-emission and energy-efficient trains. But it is not only the environment that will benefit. Our passengers can look forward to travelling on comfortable and exceptionally quiet vehicles.’

In 2019 Stadler won a contract to supply 55 Flirt BEMUs for use in Schleswig-Holstein. ‘The use of CO2-emission free rail vehicles on non-electrified lines is a fundamental building block for achieving EU climate targets’, said Mikolčić, and the second order for BEMUs ‘will allow us not only to confirm our market leadership, but above all to make our contribution towards the further development of modern, comfortable, environmentally-friendly mobility.’