THE fleet of 11 Coradia Continental BEMUs ordered by Chemnitz-based transport authority VMS will not enter service until late 2025. This is two years later than scheduled for the trains which are due to operate the RE6 Leipzig - Chemnitz route in Saxony, Germany,

According to local media, the Alstom-built 3-car trains, ordered in 2020 and due to enter service start operations in December 2023, are complete, but not yet ready for service. The manufacturer now concedes that it will be 2025 before any of the fleet enters passenger service. As a result, Alstom is funding the provision of four air-conditioned sets of double-deck coaches from December 2024 until December 2025.

The double-deck coaches, to be hired from Potsdam-based leasing company Wedler Franz Logistik (WFL), will be used by the existing operator Mid-German Regional Railway (MRB) and hauled by diesel locomotives as at present.

Passengers will benefit from a lower boarding height, as well as the air-conditioning in summer. Currently the service is the last in Germany to be operated with inter-city coaches supplied to the former state railway of East Germany, DR.

It is currently unclear if any of the new class 1440.4 BEMUs will enter passenger service before December 2025 and passenger user groups have encouraged VMS to avoid introducing them until they are all ready, especially as the temporary trains will provide more seats than the new fleet. Chemnitz is European Capital of Culture 2025, and passenger numbers are likely to be higher than usual all year.

Alstom told local media in Chemnitz that it was working to optimise the software and battery system on the new trains. The process to obtain approval from the Federal Railway Agency (EBA) is expected to begin later this year and take five months to complete, as the trains are the first of their type to be built.

The introduction of new BEMU fleets elsewhere in Germany, involving trains from other manufacturers which are now in service, have also suffered delays due to software issues relating to traction drive and battery control.

Stadler’s Flirt Akku fleet in Schleswig-Holstein required software upgrades within weeks of launching and the Siemens Mireo Plus B fleet in Baden-Württemberg entered service four months later than planned.

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