March 26, 2013

Abellio wins German-Dutch concession

Written by  Quintus Vosman
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Abellio wins German-Dutch concession Abellio NRW

RHINE-Ruhr Transport Association (VRR) announced on March 22 that it has selected Abellio Rail NRW as its preferred bidder for the concession to operate the Lower Rhine Network regional concession for 12 years from December 2016.

The concession includes a new cross-border service, RB35, which will link Düsseldorf with Arnhem in the Netherlands via the border station of Emmerich. Local transport authorities in the Dutch province of Gelderland and the cities of Arnhem and Nijmegen co-operated with their counterparts at VRR to develop a specification for the new service. These authorities, together with the state government of North Rhine Westfalia, will jointly fund the cross-border trains.

Under the terms of the concession, Abellio Rail NRW will acquire the trains and transfer them to VRR, which will finance the trains and lease them back to Abellio. Abellio has yet to specify what trains will be used, although it has recently ordered Talent 2 emus from Bombardier for use in Germany.

The Düssseldorf – Arnhem service will need multi-system electric trains with 15 kV 16.7Hz ac for the German network; 25 kV 50 Hz ac for the Emmerich – Zevenaar section, which will be converted to the higher voltage as part of the extension of the Betuweroute extension; and the standard Dutch 1.5kV dc system for the Zevenaar – Arnhem section.

It is likely that the service to Arnhem will start in 2017. New trains for the international service need an authorisation to place in service both in Germany and the Netherlands. Given recent experience with national safety authorities in both countries, the approval process could take some time to complete and delivery schedules will need to reflect certification risks.

The concession also covers RB33 services between Mönchengladbach and Wesel, and includes an option to extend these trains along the 20km branch from Wesel to Bocholt. Alternatively, Bocholt could be served with portion working on the Düsseldorf – Emmerich – Arnhem service, with trains splitting and joining at Wesel.

The latter option would require electrification of the Wesel- Bocholt line, and a feasibility study is currently being carried out. For a 80 km/h operation it is estimated that an investment of around €12 million would be required, rising to €15m for 100km/h operation. VRR stipulates that the improved services on the Bocholt line must start at the beginning of the concession term in December 2016.

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