The contracts cover the operation of RE7 Rhine-Münsterland Express (Rheine – Münster – Wuppertal – Cologne – Krefeld) and RB48 (Wuppertal – Solingen – Cologne – Bonn) services for 15 years from December 2015. National Express will operate a total of 5.1 million train-km per year on the two routes, introducing a new fleet of 35 Talent 2 emus, which were ordered from Bombardier earlier this year. While trains have been procured by National Express, they will be sold to VRR and NWL, which will take over the financing arrangements and lease the rolling stock back to the operator.

National Express estimates that the two routes will generate revenues of €1.6bn over the life of the contract, although the operator will incur financial penalties if trains are delayed by more than two minutes.

National Express will initially operate the two services in partnership with German operator IntEgro Transport, which will drop out of the consortium when National Express has been granted an operating licence for Germany.