THE Council of Ministers of the German state of Saarland has approved a cooperation and financing agreement with the French region of Grand Est which paves the way for the joint procurement of a new fleet of trains for cross-border regional services.

Under the agreement, Grand Est will order 30 trains for operation in Germany and France from December 2024. Ten of the trains will be used in Saarland.

Purchase costs are capped at €9.4m per train, valuing the order at €282m. Acquisition costs will be borne by Grand Est, with the partners paying a mileage-based usage fee.

The states of Saarland, Rhineland-Palatinate and Baden-Württemberg are working with Grand Est on a €40m project to develop a variant of the Alstom Coradia Polyvalent (Régiolis) regional train, which is widely used in France, for operation into Germany. Saarland is contributing €7.14m and the partners are seeking EU Interreg funding for the project.

“In the Aachen Treaty it was specifically agreed to improve rail links between Germany and France,” says Saarland’s economy and transport minister Mrs Anke Rehlinger. “The federal government therefore should not leave the states to shoulder the costs of implementation alone. Cross-border transport is not simply a question of the economic viability of connections, it is about setting Franco-German friendship on track.”

Saarland and Grand Est have signed joint resolutions on cross-border transport in recent months, providing a basis for developing common timetables and fares. This followed the completion of an Interreg-funded study into operational and rolling stock requirements.