On March 26 2015, the municipalities of the Rhine-Ruhr Metropolitan commonly awarded Siemens with the contracts to supply 82 electric multiple units of the type Desiro “High Capacity” (HC) and to provide maintenance services for a period of 32 years. An order with a total volume of more than 1.7 billion euros, of which 800 million will be spent on buying the trains that will be operated under the new Rhine-Ruhr express (RRX) rail transport concept.
Now, almost two years later, the first trains are under construction. Siemens expects to have the first ready this spring, two years after contract signing. Then commissioning will start, and in 2018 the first EMUs of this new design should enter commercial service. RRX is the first (‘launching’) customer for the Desiro HC, that has two single-deck end-cars and two double-deck intermediate cars.
Single-deck and double-deck combined
We have seen the concept of combining single- and double-deck carriages in one permanently coupled consist before. The concept is also the basis of Bombardier’s Omneo and the recently revealed X’Trapolis CityDuplex of Alstom/Bombardier. Different to these two trains is that Siemens uses a more conventional car-construction; Longer carbodies, all placed on two 2-axle bogies each.
Siemens has made the new train a member of the Desiro product family. It is related to the single-deck Desiro Mainline for example. It is given the affix ‘High Capacity’ as the train has to address one main challenge: transporting as many passengers as possible. But the RRX-network, connecting the many cities in the densely populated Rhine-Ruhr area, is not pure urban network, nor is it regional, it is both. Siemens therefore states it has been developed for ‘metropolian regions’ (Metropolregionen).
The challenge of serving a metropolian region is addressing very different (maybe even opposing) travel needs. Some people will hop-on for a short trip within a city, carrying bags and pulling a buggy, others will travel longer distances, from home to work for example. The first group needs open spaces to get around, they want easy access, boarding quickly and fluently, comfort comes second. The other group requires quality seating, more privacy and the modern comfort of wifi and power sockets.
Generally, single-deck trains are more suitable for the first group, when having many doors. Double-deck trains do offer more capacity within the same length, but getting on and off the trains takes more time. Why not combining both, a good solution for the RRX network, that serves the group cities in the German Rhein/Ruhr-area and the less populated regions connecting them.
The RRX project and its trains are a long-term project. It will be gradually extended/adjusted, over a period of 10-15 years. The exact network is still subject to change. The original plan was to have seven RRX lines, all connecting to the main branch: Dortmund – Duisburg – Düsseldorf – Cologne.
At this moment, DB Regio is exploiting the lines where RRX will run. Abellio Rail and National Express, the winners of the RRX operational contract, will gradually take-over lines in the region, slowly forming the new RRX network:
- 12.2018: RE 11: Düsseldorf – Duisburg – Essen – Dortmund – Hamm – Paderborn – Kassel
- 06.2019: RE 5: Koblenz – Köln – Düsseldorf – Duisburg – Wesel
- 12.2019: RE 6: Köln/Bonn (Flughafen) – Köln – Düsseldorf – Duisburg – Essen – Dortmund – Hamm – Minden
- 06.2020: RE 1: Aachen – Köln – Düsseldorf – Duisburg – Essen – Dortmund – Hamm
- 12.2020: RE 4: Aachen – Mönchengladbach – Düsseldorf – Hagen – Dortmund
Not only does the project bring new operators and new trains, the region will have to invest in its infrastructure. This is required to introduce the desired RRX frequency of one train every 15 minutes on the Dortmund – Cologne branch.
So over the next years we will see the RRX network being formed step by step. Soon we will see what the trains will look like. After having outshopped to first complete sets, Siemens will have roughly 1,5 year to get the new Desiro HC running, homologated, tested and commissioned.
Sources: RP-online, Siemens