Public transport association Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Ruhr (VRR) has selected Keolis and Abellio as preferred bidders for two contracts to operate the Rhine-Ruhr S-Bahn network from December 2019.

Under the 12-year contract, Keolis will operate lot A of the network, which includes approximately 4.8 million train kilometres over lines S1 and S4.

Over a period of 15 years, Lot B's contract requires Abellio to operate lines RB3 (Dortmund-Duisburg), RB40 (Hagen-food), RB41 (Wesel-Wuppertal), S2 (Dortmund Recklinghausen/Essen), S3 (Oberhausen-Hattingen), and S9 (Hagen-Recklinghausen/Haltern am See), which have a total of 7.1 million train kilometres.

In addition, an existing contract with DB Regio NRW for the operation of S6 and S11 has been extended until 2023.

"Abellio will make travelling by train in the Rhine-Ruhr area fun again."

Keolis will operate 48 Class 422 four-car electric multiple units on the S1 and S4 lines, while Abellio will use 29 new Stadler-built FLIRT3 model trains on the lines S2, S3, S9, S28, RB3, RB40 and RB41.

Abellio's Germany managing director Stephan Krenz said: "Abellio will make travelling by train in the Rhine-Ruhr area fun again. This award for the biggest lot in the tender shows once again that we are the quality leaders in the North Rhine Westphalia area.

"With this new lot, Abellio's presence as a competitive rail business grows in Germany. This is clearly the merit of our employees who go above and beyond to offer our passengers the best service every single day."

Both contracts will be signed after a 10-day appeal period.