THE Baden-Württemberg state government has approved a plan for state-owned Southwest German Transport (Sweg) to take over contracts in the state currently held by Netherlands Railways’ (NS) subsidiary Abellio.

Sweg has also submitted a purchase offer to the administrator for Abellio’s insolvent Abellio Rail Baden-Württemberg GmbH (ABRB) subsidiary, including the depot at Pforzheim.

Assuming the offer is accepted, Sweg will operate the contracted trains while paying employees their agreed Abellio salaries. If the takeover is agreed, ABRB will receive a temporary transport contract for two years as part of an emergency measure under European procurement law. This contract will guarantee full cost coverage of the operation.

The announcement follows the agreement reached in September between the government and Abellio that it would continue to operate until December 2021. Abellio entered a three-month period of German federal government funded bankruptcy protection in July following NS’ decision to no longer fund losses in its German subsidiary.

Baden-Württemberg transport minister, Mr Winfried Hermann, told local media on October 25 that the state has developed “a solid solution” for continued operation with Sweg set to step in “for the next two years.” The state Transport Ministry says the agreement is both economical and offers the best possible prospect for continued stable operation.

The state government plans to re-tender the networks operated by Abellio within two years. Sweg will be eligible to bid but the winning bidder will be obliged to buy ABRB from Sweg to use as the operating company. The state has stressed its priority is to provide continuity for employees and passengers by preserving jobs in both the takeover and re-tendering process.

Abellio won the contracts to operate services from Stuttgart in 2016, beginning in 2019. Actual operation has been marred by staff and rolling stock shortages, especially due to the long running late delivery of Talent 2 EMUs by Bombardier (now Alstom).