RHINE-Main Transport Authority (RMV) has awarded German Rail (DB) subsidiary Start a 12-year operating contract for the Taunus network, taking over from Hessian State Railway, from December 2022.

The network comprises four routes:

  • RB11 Bad Soden - Sulzbach - Frankfurt-Höchst (- Kelkheim)
  • RB12 Königstein - Kelkheim - Frankfurt-Höchst - Frankfurt Central Station
  • RB15 Brandoberndorf - Usingen (- Friedrichsdorf - Bad Homburg - Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof), and
  • RB16 Friedburg - Friedrichsdorf - Bad Homburg.

A fleet of 27 Alstom iLint hydrogen trains, ordered in 2019 for €500m, will replace diesel trains on all four lines. This is currently the largest planned hydrogen fleet in the world.

Each train will have 160 seats, an increase of around 30% compared with the DMUs they will replace. The iLint fleet will also be fitted with passenger information systems, space for bicycles, wheelchairs and prams, and will have free Wi-Fi.

The Hochtaunus transport association is currently planning the electrification of the 18km line between Friedrichsdorf and Usingen so that it can it be used by the S5 S-Bahn. Until that commences commercial operation, the timetables on the four Taunus lines will remain largely unchanged.

Once the S5 S-Bahn is operational, the RB16 timetable will be changed to a uniform cycle and the service will be extended to Bad Homburg. Additional journeys are also planned on the RB12 route during rush hour.

RMV says staff will transfer from incumbent Hessian State Railway to DB Start.

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