Start Maas-Wupper Express Stadler Flirt EMU impression

EUROPE: Regionalverkehr Start Deutschland has awarded Stadler a contract to supply 20 Flirt3XL electric multiple-units for use on Maas-Wupper-Express service RE13 between Germany and the Netherlands.

In January Rhein-Ruhr and Westfalen-Lippe transport authorities VRR and NWL, working with the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure & Water Management, selected DB Regio subsidiary Start for a 14-year contract to succeed Keolis as operator of the service from December 2026.

The route starts at Hamm in Germany and runs via Düsseldorf and Mönchengladbach to the Dutch border, where the trains currently terminate at Venlo. Under the new contract the hourly service will be extended to Eindhoven, taking the route to 213 km, with the operation expected to total 26 million train-km/year.

Start Maas-Wupper Express map

The transport authorities set the specification for the EMUs, which were then procured by the operator through a competitive tender. Start will sell the fleet to VRR and NWL, which will be responsible for financing and lease the trains back to the operator.

Start Managing Director Alexander Falkenmeier said Stadler had won the tender by offering an ‘outstanding price:performance ratio’ and high energy efficiency.

The EMUs will be equipped to operate using 15 kV 16·7 Hz overhead electrification in Germany and 1·5 kV DC in the Netherlands. They will be fitted with the PZB and ATB national safety systems as well as ETCS.

The four-car units will have seven doors on each side and a capacity of 375 passengers, including 231 standard and 34 first class seats. They will have ‘light and airy’ air-conditioned saloons, with wi-fi and real-time passenger information. Large multi-purpose areas will provide space for up to 12 bicycles, wheelchairs or prams, one of the two toilets will be wheelchair-accessible and an 800 mm floor height will provide step-free access in both countries.

‘Rail services must be reliable, cross-border and comfortable for the successful implementation of the German and Europe-wide transport revolution’, said Stadler Deutschland CEO Jure Mikolčić when the rolling stock order was announced on February 16. ‘Stadler can, once again, bring its many years of experience in the design of multi-system-capable vehicles to the table to enable direct cross-border connections.’