National Express is to procure 38 five-car Škoda Transportation RegioPanter EMUs for the Nürnberg S-Bahn services.

GERMANY: Following a competitive tender, on February 2 Bayern railway authority BEG named National Express Rail GmbH as preferred bidder for two parallel 12-year contracts to operate Nürnberg S-Bahn services from December 2018.

Signing is subject to the 10-day standstill period. National Express said the contracts are expected to generate revenue in excess of €1·4bn, and would make it ‘the first overseas operator of a significant German S-Bahn’.

The contracts cover services which are currently operated by DB Regio and carry more than 20 million passengers/year. The routes are:

  • S1 Bamberg – Erlangen – Nürnberg – Hartmannshof;
  • S2 Roth – Schwabach – Nürnberg – Feucht – Altdorf;
  • S3 Nürnberg – Feucht – Neumarkt;
  • S4 Nürnberg – Heilsbronn –Ansbach;
  • S5 Nürnberg – Allersberg (currently operated under the Allersberg-Express brand).

A planned extension from Ansbach to Dombühl will take the network to a total of 272 route-km, according to BEG Managing Director Dr Johann Niggl. Subject to the completion of infrastructure works by DB Netz, services to Erlangen are to be increased to run every 20 min, with a similar frequency to Forchheim in the peaks.

The operating contracts were tendered as two packages, reflecting the relatively large scope of the operations. There are specified quality levels for factors including cleanliness, passenger information and the provision of security staff at evenings and weekends.

National Express is to procure 38 five-car Škoda Transportation RegioPanter electric multiple-units to meet the requirement for new trains with at least the current number of seats, 760 mm high step-free entrances, an accessible toilet and multi-purpose spaces for prams and bicycles. The EMUs will be procured on behalf of BEG and owned by a leasing company.

National Express Group Chief Executive Dean Finch said the latest win confirms that the German market is ‘an exciting growth opportunity for the Group’. National Express had previously been selected to operate two regional routes in Nordrhein-Westfalen from December 2015, and the Nürnberg contracts mean it will operate a total of 12·4 million train-km/year from 2019. It says this will make it the seventh largest out of 30 German operators in terms of train-km/year.

When announcing the preferred bidder, BEG highlighted that National Express’ London commuter franchise c2c has ‘the most punctual services in England’, which Finch said shows the UK operation ‘is recognised internationally’. He added ‘we look forward to providing passengers in the Nürnberg region with a high quality rail service for many years to come.’