DB Regio was selected last August as preferred bidder for the contract, which begins in December and covers the operation of around 2.1 million train-km per year on two routes: Stuttgart - Schwäbisch Hall Hessental - Crailsheim and Stuttgart - Horb - Singen/Freudenstadt lines. Services will be increased to offer half-hourly frequencies during the day between Stuttgart and Murrhardt between Mondays and Saturdays with half-hourly services extended to Schwäbisch Hall at peak times. Journey times between Schwäbisch Hall Hessental and Stuttgart will also be reduced by up to 15 minutes.

The locomotive-hauled trains currently used on these services will be replaced on an interim basis by class 425 EMUs in December pending the introduction of new Bombardier Talent 2 EMUs (pictured below) from December 2017. Each new four-car train will seat 215 passengers and accommodate up to 30 bicycles.

"Through the tender for this route we have been able to achieve improvements in passenger comfort and service levels at a price which is far below the current contract," Hermann says.

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