After the chaos with many train cancellations on the route of the Taunusbahn, the Rhein-Main-Verkehrs-Verbund (RMV) promises from Monday, 27 February, a traffic according to schedule. At any scheduled time, a train should run, said Knut Ringat, Managing Director of the transport association on Friday.

Jan Schiefenhövel

Editor at the Rhein-Main-Zeitung.

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According to him, in addition to new hydrogen trains, diesel railcars will also be in use. As a reserve in the event that trains are cancelled again, buses operate as replacement services, even if a train runs on time. Service staff would be available for passengers at the stations to show them the way to the stop of the replacement buses.

The route of the Taunusbahn is currently closed due to clearing work in preparation for construction work. From 10 February to 26 February, traffic on the line will be completely at a standstill. The Taunusbahn, Regionalbahn 15 of the RMV, runs from Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof via Bad Homburg and Friedrichsdorf to Usingen and Grävenwiesbach to the terminus in Brandoberndorf in the Lahn-Dill-Kreis. S-Bahn trains also run to Friedrichsdorf. The line beyond that is not electrified, the S-Bahn can not continue there. The line is 60 kilometres long, 37 kilometres are on the section without overhead line from Friedrichsdorf to Brandoberndorf.

Only six of the 27 hydrogen trains ordered delivered

Actually, only hydrogen-powered trains should have run on the Taunusbahn from the timetable change in December. The aim was to replace diesel engines with new and climate-friendly technology. This attempt was unsuccessful because not enough of the new trains were available at the timetable change, as Ringtat said. The manufacturer of the hydrogen trains, the company Alstom, had delivered only six instead of the 27 ordered copies.

But these had failed due to defects as well as the diesel vehicles intended as replacements. The switch to the new drive technology in December was also difficult because a new operator had been entrusted with train traffic on the line – the company Start, a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn. Previously, the Hessian State Railway was responsible for the Taunus Railway.

From Monday, February 27, ten hydrogen trains from Alstom are planned for the Taunusbahn, said Müslüm Yakisan, Alstom's president for Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Five of these vehicles have already been retrofitted, with technical components and with a software update. Another five hydrogen trains should also be retrofitted by March, their engine will receive a new injection pump. The pumps used so far were not durable enough. Alstom had borrowed nine diesel trains for the Taunusbahn as a supplement and reserve.

For the time being, diesel railcars also in use

Eleven trains are needed for scheduled traffic on the line, explained Ringat and Dirk Bartels, managing directors of the railway subsidiary Start. Five hydrogen trains and six diesel railcars are planned. If the five other hydrogen trains were retrofitted, they could run through the Taunus instead of diesel trains. The hydrogen trains have to be refuelled in the industrial area of Frankfurt-Höchst. This is where hydrogen is produced as a by-product of chemical manufacturing, according to Joachim Kreysing, managing director of Infraserv.

By the next timetable change in June, all 27 ordered hydrogen trains should be available, Ringat said. These could then be used not only on the Taunus Railway, but also on three other routes – on the lines of Regionalbahn 11 between Bad Soden and Höchst, Regionalbahn 12 from Frankfurt to Königstein and Regionalbahn 16 from Friedrichsdorf to Friedberg.