UK-based intercity coach operator National Express has started running two services on the Rhine Munster Express (RME) in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.
Under a contract awarded in 2013, National Express will operate RE7 regional express service between Krefeld-Cologne-Wuppertal-Hagen-Hamm-Munster-Rheine, and RB48 regional stopping service between Bonn-Cologne-Wuppertal.
National Express made a €170m order for 35 new Talent 2 electric multiple-units (EMUs) for operation on the two services.
The order included 25 five-car and ten three-car trains, capable of operating up to speeds of 160km/h.
The Talent 2 trains feature both first and standard-class seating, and are fully accessible.
The new train features first and second-class seating and is equipped with CCTV, multi-purpose areas for prams, wheelchairs and bicycles.
According to National Express, an estimated 18 million passengers will travel on the service each year and the two 15-year contracts are expected to generate revenues of around €1.6bn.
National Express Group CEO Dean Finch said: "Germany is Europe’s largest rail market and is an important part of our strategy.
"We will be implementing our approach and success in running the UK’s best performing franchise, c2c, in Germany. National Express’ aim is to deliver a better, more frequent and reliable service to RME passengers with brand new, modern trains.
"The German rail market presents significant further opportunity for National Express. We are working on the start-up of our next two German rail contracts on the Rhine-Ruhr Express.
"These bring our already secured revenues from German rail to €2.6bn. We await the outcome of the appeal on the €1.4bn Nuremberg S-Bahn contract, have recently submitted a bid for another German rail contract and see an active pipeline of attractive opportunities throughout 2016."
In October, the operator signed two contracts to run the Rhine-Ruhr Express (RRX) service in the same region.
National Express has also been named as the preferred bidder for the Nuremberg S-Bahn contract and is awaiting the outcome of an appeal that is due shortly.
Image: National Express has begun operating services in Germany on lines RE7 and RB48 of RME. Photo: courtesy of National Express Group