DB Regio has won a contract to operate initial regional services on the new 60km 250km/h Wendlingen - Ulm high-speed line which opens in December 2022.
The initial Interregioexpress service will operate for three years using 200km/h coaches hauled by ETCS-equipped locomotives offering long-distance style accommodation. It is likely DB Regio will use former DB Long Distance inter-city push-pull trains.
The contract awarded by the Baden-Württemberg state government runs until December 2027 but includes an option for early termination in the last two years as the new Stuttgart main station and associated tunnels linked to the Wendlingen - Ulm high speed line are due to open in December 2025. If this happens, then the initial Wendlingen - Ulm service will be replaced by a through service to Stuttgart operated using a new fleet of ETCS-equipped EMUs, to be ordered by the Baden-Württemberg state rolling stock leasing company SFBW, which will reduce journey times between Ulm and Stuttgart by around 20 minutes from the current 62 minutes.
The new service will operate between Ulm and Wendlingen every two hours serving the new regional station built on the high-speed line at Merklingen; an hourly Ulm - Merklingen service is also planned in the contract which calls for between 600,000 and 800,000 train-km per year. Wendlingen is on the two-track conventional line between Plochingen and Tübingen east of Stuttgart which for the first three years after the new high-speed line opens will be very busy with both existing regional and long-distance trains travelling to and from the new line.
Due to track capacity issues the new interim high-speed regional service cannot serve Stuttgart .Whilst journeys from Ulm to both Wendlingen and Tübingen will be faster on the new interim service, journeys to and from Stuttgart will not be and the existing regional service via Göppingen will continue to provide a direct service.