A tender has been published to appoint a new operator for the RE8 Stuttgart - Heilbronn - Würzburg ‘Frankenbahn’ service. It is hoped to award the contract, which will probably be for two years, later this year.

According the Ministry of Transport, GoAhead has not been able to ensure reliable operation since it started to operate three services under the Stuttgart Network concession in December 2019: semi-fast Regional Express services on the RE8 Stuttgart - Würzburg and RE90 Stuttgart - Nuremberg routes, plus slower Regional Bahn trains on the RB16 Stuttgart – Ulm route. GoAhead has also been operating two other routes under the Stuttgart Network concession since June 2019.

GoAhead has suffered from a shortage of drivers and experienced technical problems with some of the Stadler Flirt EMUs, which it has introduced leading to cancellations and delays.

“Since last December, we have doubled the offer on the Frankenbahn to an hourly frequency in order to attract as many passengers as possible,” Mr Winfried Hermann, Baden-Württemberg transport minister explains. “But this only works if the reliability is right. That is why we have developed a new solution for a longer transition (to the new operator). I am very happy that GoAhead is now open to the problems experienced and is cooperating with the solution.”

“With the start of operation in June and December 2019, we took over the five most demanding regional rail routes in Baden-Württemberg,” says Mr Stefan Krispin, managing Director of GoAhead Germany. “We regret that the demands of our passengers have not been met since December.

“Go-Ahead has been training drivers for 2.5 years, and our 17th driver training course is currently underway. However, due to the structural shortage of staff, we were unable to completely cover the necessary requirements, so with this in mind we actively support the Ministry of Transport in finding a solution. We strongly reject, as incorrect, recent media reports about the termination of our transport contracts.”

Since April, additional services operated under contract to the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Transport have been provided by DB Regio on the Stuttgart - Würzburg route as passenger traffic on the route (pre-coronavirus) was expected to be substantially higher than normal due to the closure of the Stuttgart - Mannheim high-speed line all summer for track renewal.