Schleswig-Holstein transport authority NAH.SH has awarded Stadler a contract to supply a fleet of Flirt Akku battery-powered multiple-units.

GERMANY: All the contracts are now in place for the financing, supply, maintenance and operation of a large fleet of battery multiple-units for non-electrified routes in Schleswig-Holstein, with the award of the final operating contract following a tendering process which led to a legal challenge.

Having decided to replace the diesel multiple-units currently used on non-electrified routes in the far north of Germany, the Land called tenders for the SH-XMU I contract to supply a fleet of zero-emission trains, leaving the choice of technology to bidders.

Stadler proposed its Flirt Akku battery multiple-unit, and in July 2019 was awarded a €600m contract to supply 55 two-car trainsets and maintain them for 30 years, with an option for a further 50 units.

The Land then selected Paribus Holding for the SH-XMU II contract to finance the trains and lease them to the future operators, and provided a debt service guarantee to ensure favourable financing terms.

Stadler is to deliver five pre-series trains from November 2022, with the remainder to enter service from May 2023 to mid-2024. The batteries will be recharged from the existing 15 kV 16·7 Hz overhead electrification and at newly installed charging points.

DB Regio was awarded the SH-XMU III contract to provide a transitional fleet of DMUs for use from December 2022 to December 2024, including 22 Alstom Coradia Lint 41 units and four more as spares.

Operating contracts

As well as the rolling stock order and financing agreement, there are three operating contracts which run to December 2035 and cover the operation of 10·4 million train-km/year on 11 routes tendered in three lots.

The Land will take revenue risk, the train manufacturer will be responsible for fleet maintenance, and the operators are required to take on staff from the current operators on their existing terms.

In July Netinera’s Osthannoversche Eisenbahnen was appointed to succeed DB Regio from December 2022 on the Ost package of services RE83/84 Kiel – Lübeck, RB89 Lübeck – Lüneburg, RB87 Kiel – Preetz and RB76 Kiel – Schönberger Strand.

Nordbahn retained the Ost-West contract covering RB63 Büsum – Heide – Neumünster and RB82 Neumünster – Bad Oldesloe, with the next contract starting in December 2023.

The last package to be awarded was the Nord contract, which starts December 2023 and covers services RE72 Flensburg – Kiel, RB73 Eckernförde – Kiel, RE74 Husum – Kiel, RB75 Rendsburg-Seemühlen – Kiel and RB64 Husum – Bad St Peter-Ording, currently operated by DB Regio.

RDC had originally been selected as preferred bidder, but DB Regio challenged the decision on technical grounds and following a review Nordbahn was announced as the winner on December 8.

Land Transport Secretary Dr Thilo Rohlfs said the award of the battery network contracts ‘shows how railway lines can be electrified without the tedious construction of overhead lines and how the energy transition is becoming very practical’.