GERMANY: The Baden-Württemberg cabinet has approved a rescue plan for the regional passenger services currently operated by Abellio Rail Baden-Württemberg GmbH.

During a three month insolvency protection period that began on June 30, Abellio agreed to continue operating its concessions in Baden-Württemberg until the end of December, allowing time for the Land to put alternative arrangements in place.

Stuttgart-based ABRB currently operates Neckartal Lot 1 routes RB17, RB18, RE10 and IR6 under a contract that began in December 2019 and was due to run until 2032.

Under the rescue plan, Land -owned operator Südwestdeutsche Landesverkehrs-GmbH will take over the affected routes for the next two years in order to guarantee the continuity of services. It will be directly awarded a two-year full-cost contract under the ‘emergency measures’ provision in European public procurement law.

SWEG has submitted an offer to purchase ABRB assets including the maintenance depot, and will take over the existing staff, allowing it to maintain the agreed service frequencies. It will also take over the rolling stock, which is leased from state rolling stock body Landesanstalt Eisenbahnfahrzeuge Baden-Württemberg.

This will give the Land time to re-tender the concessions and appoint a new operator, State Transport Minister Winfried Hermann explained on October 26. ‘Within the next two years, we want to re-award the transport services through a competitive tendering process, in which SWEG will also be able to participate’, he confirmed. Once a new operator has been selected, SWEG would pass on the relevant ABRB assets.