The contract calls for the operation of around 500,000 train-km annually on Line RB72 for five years from December 12 2021, with options to extend the term until December 2034 if required.
The tender states that the winning bidder must be able to provide EMUs equipped to operate on the standard German 15kV 16.7Hz ac overhead electrification system and with onboard batteries for autonomous electric operation on non-electrified lines. The trains must be capable of covering 20km on level track in catenary-free mode without the need to recharge, based an average distance of 3km between stops.
The train operator will be responsible for providing charging infrastructure at the terminus at Lebach-Jabach, which is not currently electrified.
Battery trains are only intended as a temporary solution as the Wemmetsweil – Lebach line is due for electrification, although this project has been delayed.