GERMANY: UK company Go-Ahead and the Abellio subsidiary of Dutch national railway NS have been selected for three contracts to operate Netz 1 passenger services from Stuttgart, Baden-Württemberg’s Minister for Transport & Infrastructure Winfried Hermann announced on November 17.

Formal award of the contracts by transport authority Nahverkehrsgesellschaft Baden-Württemberg is subject to a 10-day standstill period.

The new operators are to take over the services between June 2019 and December 2020, and operate a total of 14·8 million train-km/year under contracts running to 2032. The operators will be paid to provide the services, with the Land receiving ticket revenue, but the operators will be incentivised by being allocated a share of any increase in revenue over previous years.

Winning two of the Netz 1 contracts marks the entry of bus and rail operator Go-Ahead Group into the German rail market. ‘We have 18 years’ experience providing passenger rail services in UK rail operating on busy and complex networks and we are pleased to be able to bring our expertise in the German rail market’, said Chief Executive David Brown. Go-Ahead expects its two contracts to generate combined revenues of around €1·6bn over their life.

Stephan Krenz, Managing Director of Abellio Deutschland, said winning the company’s third contract in Germany and the largest of the Netz 1 lots meant Abellio would serve ‘one of the highest income and economically important cities of Germany and Europe’, where it would ‘demonstrate how to successfully bring millions of passengers professionally, safely on time to their destination whilst experiencing high comfort’.

Bidders were limited to winning a maximum of two of the three contracts. Hermann said the call for tenders had attracted a lot of interest, with seven of the 10 initial applicants submitting bids. The lowest bidder did not meet the minimum requirements, and one bid was rejected on procedural grounds.

Hermann said the bids were all similar in price, at around half the €11·69/train-km the Land pays DB under a large contract dating from 2003. He said this showed that tendering was the right approach to procuring train services, and the money saved would be used to fund the additional services and new high-quality rolling stock.

Lot 1a is to be operated using 43 Bombardier Talent 2 EMUs, and lots 1b and 1c with three to six-car Stadler Flirt EMUs. All will carry Land branding, and are required to have air-conditioning, folding tables, power sockets, mobile phone signal amplifiers, wi-fi, accessible toilets and between 24 and 51 cycle spaces.

Meanwhile, the Land has awarded DB 11 interim contracts of up to three years to continue to operate passenger services between the expiry of its current large contract and new operators taking over. The interim contracts are priced at an average of €9·60/train-km, and will see around a third of the 40-year old ‘Silberlinge’ coaches withdrawn by December 2016. The interim contracts are designed to enable the Land to award smaller contracts for future operations with staggered start dates, which is intended to make the bidding process more accessible to smaller operators.

Stuttgart Netz 1 operating contracts
Contract Preferred bidder Routes million train-km/year
Lot 1a (Neckartal) Abellio Rail Südwest
  • Stuttgart - Mühlacker - Bruchsal/Pforzheim
  • Stuttgart - Heilbronn - Mannheim/Osterburken
  • Stuttgart - Plochingen - Tübingen
Lot 1b (Rems - Fils) Go-Ahead
  • Stuttgart - Aalen - Crailsheim
  • Stuttgart - Geislingen (Steige) - Ulm
Lot 1c (Franken - Enz) Go-Ahead
  • Stuttgart - Aalen;
  • Stuttgart - Karlsruhe
  • Stuttgart - Heilbronn - Lauda - Würzburg