GERMAN Rail (DB) subsidiary DB Regio Bavaria expanded the Franconia-Thuringia Express (FTX) network to the Nuremberg - Erfurt high-speed line on June 9, commencing operation of the new RE 29 route between Nuremberg, Bamberg, Coburg and Erfurt.

This is the first direct regional passenger service between Nuremberg and Erfurt and offers a journey time of 1h 53min, around half the previous fastest journey time. In addition, Coburg - Erfurt journey times have been slashed to just 36 minutes compared with previous regional services, which took around three hours and required passengers to change trains twice.

There are 16 trains now operating every day in both directions between Nuremberg and Coburg. The five pairs of trains operating on the high-speed line supplement Coburg’s existing ICE services, providing faster and more frequent services to other destinations in Germany. Passengers on route RE 29 can use the Deutschlandticket to travel.

The new services are operated with a fleet of eight six-car Desiro HC double-deck EMUs, which operate at a maximum speed of 190km/h on the high-speed line. The trains are equipped with ETCS and are pressure-sealed to allow passage through tunnels at higher speeds. They have capacity for 634 passengers and 60 bicycles and are equipped with onboard Wi-Fi and advanced passenger information displays. The trains join the fleet of 18 four-car Desiro HC trains, which entered service with FTX in December 2023. These are providing a half-hourly service between Nuremberg and Bamberg.

The states of Bavaria and Thuringia have invested €320m in the new fleet under a contract awarded to Siemens Mobility in November 2021. DB Regio Bavaria won the 12-year contract to operate FTX as part of the wider Franconia and South Thuringia contract in May 2020, commencing operation in December 2023.

“The new six-car trains provide 3000 more seats every day, which will especially benefit our passengers on the busy Nuremberg-Bamberg route,” says Mr Heiko Büttner, DB representative for Bavaria. “We can now offer people in northern Franconia even better and significantly expanded local service with many travel options to both the north and south.”

From left to right: Heiko Büttner, DB representative for Bavaria; Christian Bernreiter, Bavarian state minister for housing, and Karl Blaim, managing director and chief financial officer of Siemens Mobility. Photo: DB AG/Volker Emersleben