Eastern Bavaria plans to get rid of diesels altogether and switch to battery-powered trains in the future.
Bavarian railway authority BEG (Bayerische Eisenbahngesellschaft) launched tenders for operation of regional trains in areas adjacent to the Czech border: Upper Palatinate and Bavarian Forest. As BEG pointed out, these are two lots that can be awarded to two different companies. Both lots are currently operated by the Länderbahn under the brand names Oberpfalzbahn and Waldbahn respectively. While the cars are not required to be new, they must be low-floor.
The Bavarian tenders are being followed by Czech Railways (České dráhy); the operator indicated its interest in competitions abroad several times in the past. “We follow competitions abroad including this one. However, given the sensitivity of our business plans in a competitive environment, we will not comment on our actions or decisions,” said Czech Railways spokesman Petr Stahlavsky.
The Upper Palatinate lot includes the RB 23 line from Regensburg through the Naab valley to Marktredwitz and the network around Cham with the Schwandorf – Cham – Furth im Wald (RB 27), Cham – Lam (RB 28) and Cham – Waldmünchen (RB 29) lines. The 12-year contract will begin in December 2025, with Bavaria having reserved the option to shorten or extend it as the federal government is planning to electrify the Regensburg – Marktredwitz – Hof line in the 2030s. The start and completion date has not been set yet. Subsequently, BEG plans to order electric cars and intends to use battery-powered trains for the Cham network.
The planned switch to a hybrid trolley/battery power is also the reason why the contract for the Bavarian Forest area is considerably shorter, from December 2025 to December 2030, with a possible extension of up to two years. BEG is currently investigating the possibility of deploying hybrid trains, which could begin to operate in the early 2030s once the necessary infrastructure is in place. The area includes the line from Plattling via Deggendorf and Zwiesel to Bayerisch Eisenstein (RB 35) and all lines that branch off it: Zwiesel – Grafenau (RB 36), Zwiesel – Bodenmais (RB 37) and Gotteszell – Viechtach (RB 38).
The number of ordered train-km is expected to increase compared to today, by up to 23 per cent in the Upper Palatinate and 15 per cent in the Bavarian Forest. BEG is known for its consistent attention to fleet and operational quality, including through passenger surveys.