Locomore launched its inter-city service between Stuttgart and Berlin on December 14 (Photo: Mark Smith).

GERMANY: Crowd-funded open access passenger operator Locomore launched its inter-city service between Stuttgart and Berlin on December 14. Leaving the southern city 39 min behind its scheduled 06.21 departure time, the inaugural train arrived at Berlin Hbf 5 min early.

Test running for the service began on December 5. The daily round trip runs via Heidelberg, Frankfurt, Kassel and Hannover, and is scheduled to arrive in Berlin at 13.06. The return train departs from Lichtenberg at 14.28, reaching Stuttgart at 21.20.

The train is formed of refurbished loco-hauled coaches leased from SRI Rail Invest group. Swedish company Hector Rail is responsible for operations, using Class 182 Siemens Eurosprinter locomotives and its own train crew.

As well as free wi-fi and an at-seat catering service, Locomore is offering a mix of traditional compartments and open saloons with new leather seats. It is providing five different ‘travel areas’ - basic, quiet, family, business, and a themed zone with a games compartment networking zone.

According to Managing Director Derek Ladewig, around 1 300 people have the contributed to the crowd-funding for the start-up. ‘Now it's about getting as many people involved as possible to make our long-distance train a success. From today Locomore is offering travellers an alternative, not only to DB Fernverkehr, but also to cars, long-distance buses and aeroplanes.’ With end-to-end fares ranging from €13 to €65, or €98 in business class, the operator has committed to charging no more than half the regular DB fare between any station pair. It is also promoting its environmental credentials, purchasing power from independent utility Naturstrom AG.

Locomore is already planning to launch additional services in 2017-18, with one train linking Bonn to Berlin and Binz and another Frankfurt to München.