GERMANY: Open access company Hamburg-Köln-Express marked the second anniversary of its operations on July 23, saying it has now carried 800 000 passengers on more than 3 000 trains. The second anniversary is ‘is longer than many observers expected’, said CEO Carsten Carstensen. ‘We’re proud of this success.’

However HKX said its initial sales expectations have not been met, as a result of changing market conditions including the introduction of long-distance buses and an increase in the number of flights on the route.

‘In its first two years HKX has been able to expand the market for train journeys and to establish itself in this market’, said Carstensen. ‘In the future we’ll have to react to people’s increasingly changing attitude towards mobility, because for more and more people the decision as to their means of transport depends on the occasion and price.’

‘Since March of this year, we adapted our supply more closely to demand and have been using longer trains on the weekends so our capacity utilisation per train has continued to rise,’ said Carstensen. HKX is to offer a summer-only link between the Rhineland and Sylt in co-operation with NOB, and is currently working on integrating HKX into the national fare structure for regional services.

HKX tickets are currently sold online, by local transport operators, at travel agents and onboard, with prices starting at €18.

Henry Posner III, Chairman of HKX’s main shareholder Railroad Development Corp, said that ‘as a network business, railways must co-operate in order to offer their customers a good service all the way from origin to destination, but on the other hand they must also compete. Only a combination of co-operation and competition can make the railway industry commercially successful. HKX strives to be a good example of both competition and co-operation.’