ERFURTER Bahn, which is owned by the City of Erfurt, has retained its largest passenger operating contract after winning a tender to operate diesel services in the central German state of Thuringia.

The tender was launched by the Thuringia state government and neighbouring transport authorities including Bavarian Railways (BEG), Saxony-Anhalt transport authority NASA, Leipzig local transport authority ZVNL and the Vogtland public transport association (ZVV).

The new contract, which begins on December 15 2024 and runs until December 2036, has been increased in scope compared with  additional routes and now covers 4.56 million train-km a year, 3.15 million of which are in Thuringia.

The contract initially covers seven routes, including two Regional Express (RE) semi-fast services:

  • RE 12 Leipzig - Zeitz - Gera - Saalfeld
  • RE 13 (Leipzig -) Gera - Zeulenroda - Hof
  • RB 21 Erfurt - Weimar - Jena - Gera
  • RB 22 Leipzig - Zeitz - Gera - Saalfeld
  • RB 26 Weimar - Kranichfeld
  • RB 28 Jena Saalbahnhof - Pössneck, and
  • RB 32 Saalfeld - Blankenstein.

Following electrification of the Weimar - Gera “mid-German connection,” which is scheduled for 2030, services on the route will be operated under a new contract with electric rolling stock which is due to be awarded by 2028. To rebalance the contracted mileage, the contract foresees Erfurter Bahn taking over two other diesel routes from 2028:

  • RB4 Gera - Greiz - Weischlitz - Adorf (currently operated by Netinera), and
  • RB 76 Zeitz - Weissenfels (currently DB Regio).

Services will be operated using the existing fleet of 43 Stadler Regioshuttle DMUs although the fleet will be expanded with six additional Alstom LINT41 class 648 two-car DMUs supplied via Alpha Trains. The train fleet will be modernised with automatic passenger counting systems, Wi-Fi and CCTV.