[EU / Expert] News in Brief: Passenger trains (December edition)

Last June, we started publishing “News in Brief: Passenger trains”, our short news update service on multiple units, loco-hauled stock, and high-speed trains and their operators. This is the December 2021 edition.

If you want to share news facts with us for the next update, you can contact us via the website.

Rolling stock


  • Late September 2021, a partnership between Paris, Transilien SNCF, four Paris museums, and IDF Mobilités resulted in the four carriages of a Z20500 double-deck train (no. 20874) being decorated to plunge passengers into the heart of the artistic masterpieces of the four Parisian museums. The application of the vinyl was carried out by SNCF personnel at Ardoines Technicentre and took over 600 hours of work.


  • A new chapter in the tender for an operator for the battery-powered network ‘Nord’ in the state of Schleswig Holstein. After the state awarded RDC DeutschlandDB Regio objected and went to court over the inexperience of RDC. Now the network will be awarded to Nordbahn Eisenbahngesellschaft (NBE), a joint venture of the operators BeNEX and AKN, of which the latter already operates several lines in Schleswig-Holstein.
  • The Stuttgart S-Bahn, operated by DB, received a German Design Award in the “Excellent product design of passenger vehicles” category for its new exterior design. The redesign is part of the modernization of the fleet. Talbot Services has been awarded the repainting of these 166 Class 423 EMUs. Four units in daily passenger services already sport the new look.
  • Right on time for the new FlixTrain timetable (as of 12.12.2021), Talbot Services delivered the 100th modernized ‘Wunderwagen’. All of the coaches in services already have been completely refurbished at Talbot Services’ Aachen base. Another 40 coaches should have been delivered by May 2022, ensuring further expansion of FlixTrain’s services.

The Netherlands

  • Since the new timetable started on 12.12.2021,  the Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) sidelined the last commuter trains of the SGM series, also known as ‘Sprinters’. The first Sprinter trains entered service in 1975 between Hoek van Holland and Rotterdam. The initial 15 Sprinters were 2-car trains; 45 (out of 60) units of the second series got an additional intermediate carriage. All the units of the third series were 3-car units from the beginning.


  • Koleje Dolnośląskie (KD),  the Lower Silesian Railways, is allowed to temporarily use hybrid Pesa Impuls (series 36WEh) on the soon to be opened Wrocław Główny – Jelcz Laskowice route (292) with effect from the new 2022 timetable (starting in December 2021). This permission is needed as the Impuls trains originally were purchased for the Wrocław – Jedlina-Zdrój route (285) with EU funds. Delays in reopening the latter route made this rolling stock transfer possible.
  • Polish operator Polregio, running both regional and interregional trains throughout Poland,  bought six used trains from the voivodship of West Pomerania. The trains previously were used by ….. Polregio, comprise three 3-car EN57AL EMUs, two 2-car DMUs class SA-139 (Pesa Link) and a 2-car DMU class SA-109.


  • On Monday 27.12.2021, The Train Express Regional (TER) was inaugurated between Dakar and  Blaise Diagne International Airport, which opened in  2017. Starting 14.01.2022, TER will offer commercial services on the 54 km long line. Alstom built fifteen 4-car Coradia Polyvalent bi-modal (diesel/electric) trains. The 72,0 meter long trains have a maximum speed of 160 km/h and have a capacity of 531 passengers.

Operators & Operations


  • As Westbahn couldn’t use its ordered train paths on the Vienna – Salzburg route, ÖBB adapted its timetable for a limited time to secure relevant connections starting Sunday 12.12.2021. Departure times in Vienna, St. Pölten, Linz and Salzburg remain unchanged. At the same time, the stops in St. Valentin and Amstetten have altered departure times to guarantee connections with the transfer routes.


  • Late November 2021, Belgium confirmed the Belgian national railways SNCB will stay the only passenger rail operator for another ten years. Due to European rules, this has to be published one year before the actual award, which is scheduled for late 2022.


  • Czech operator RegioJet has been awarded a 15-year contract by the city of Prague for cross-city services, starting December 2024. Competitors in the tender for the contract were Arriva and national operator CD.


  • On 12.12.2021, two VR commuter Pendolino trains collided while moving to Tampere railway station. Only train drivers and dispatchers were on board. The train for Turku had to be canceled, including its return ride. Other rides were replaced by Intercity trains.


  • Südwestdeutsche Landesverkehrs-GmbH (SWEG), owned by the German state of Baden-Württemberg, will take over the insolvent Abellio Baden-Württemberg (ABRB). This ensures jobs and train services operated by Abellio, a subsidiary of the Dutch Railways (NS), in Baden-Württemberg for 2 years. Eventually the services will be tendered again.
  • The regional public transport authority Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Ruhr (VRR) annouced that by late January 2022, the insolvent Abellio NRW operated regional and S-Bahn lines will we taken over by DB Regio (Rhine-Ruhr  & Rhine- Sieg networks), National Express (Rhine-Ruhr-Express = RRX), and VIAS (Niederrheinbahn and S7). Never before such a large operator, Abellio was the second largest operator in North Rhine-Westphalia, left the market and made a large transistion nexessarry.
  • You read it here on Railcolor News before, Keolis wanted to leave Germany. As of 01.01.2022, Eurobahn will be both the (already known)  brand name and the company name, previously known as Keolis Deutschland. For now, TEAM Treuhand, a transition company, will be the shareholder which should make Eurobahn a stable and well-performing company, fit for the future, and create profitability for a new strategic investor in the future.


  • On Monday, 20.12.2021, the Spanish King Felipe VI was on board the opening run of a special AVE high-speed train between Madrid and Ourense (and further to Galicia).  For now, Renfe’s AVE will be the only operator using the line, as rivals haven’t got rolling stock with the correct (normal) gauge bogies. But Spanish infrastructure manager Adif confirmed several competitors are also interested in opening the new route.


  • On 29.11.2021, the  Rhätischen Bahn (RhB) started to use the Arosa line again. The Litzirüti – Arosa section was reopened after 7,5 months, as the new Arosa tunnel replaced the original one in service since 1914. The old tunnel will be completely demolished by 2022.
  • The Schweizerische Bundesbahnen (SBB) plans to build a new workshop in Arbedo-Castione in the most southern kanton of Switzerland, Ticino (Tessin). The total investment is 580 million CHF (€ 556 million). The new workshop will service 54 Tilo FLIRT trains, 29 Giruno trains, 19 Astoro trains (19 compositions), as well as approximately 100 locomotives.

The Netherlands

  • On Monday 20.12.2021, European Sleeper announced its night train from Belgium and the Netherlands to the Czech capital Prague has been postponed from April 2022 to Summer 2022. The original plan for daily runs has been changed to three runs a week. European Sleeper states the quality of rolling stock is more important than starting quickly.