GERMANY: Keolis Deutschland announced on July 9 that it had finally been awarded the Teutoburger Wald passenger operating contract, which was tendered by Westfalen-Lippe transport authority NWL in co-operation with Niedersachsen's LNVG and the Netherlands' Regio Twente and Overijssel province.

Keolis was named preferred on November 6 2014, but incumbent WestfalenBahn appealed against the decision. After considering the outcome of similar appeals, WestfalenBahn announced on June 30 that it had dropped its request for a review, one day before court hearings were due to take place in Düsseldorf.

‘We are delighted that we can now move full steam ahead with plans for operation and convince passengers in the Teutoburger Wald region that Keolis is a first class local transport service provider’, said Thomas Görtzen, Deputy CEO of Keolis Deutschland. ‘In spite of the appeal, we have spent the past months working intensively on making all preparations necessary to optimally begin operations’.

The contract runs for 15 years from December 2017, and covers 5·3 million train-km/year on five routes:

  • RB61 Wiehengebirgs-Bahn: Bielefeld – Bad Bentheim – Hengelo;
  • RB66 Teuto-Bahn: Münster – Osnabrück;
  • RB65 Ems-Bahn: Münster – Rheine (integrating the current RB68 service);
  • RB72 Ostwestfalen-Bahn: Herford – Altenbeken – Paderborn;
  • RE78 Porta-Express: Bielefeld – Minden – Nienburg.

Four of the routes are currently operated by WestfalenBahn, while RB78 is operated by DB Regio. The current Stadler Flirt fleet will transfer to the new operator, which will also procure new trains.

Keolis will operate the services under its Eurobahn brand. The company said passengers would ‘benefit from a new direct connection to the Netherlands, an extended range of services between Osnabrück and Münster, as well extended weekend services.’