182 517 at Stuttgart Hbf with the Locomore service to Berlin, 11/02/17 (JW)
Today, Thursday 24th August 2017 has seen the recommencement of an interesting loco-hauled service in Germany, which has not run since May.
The instigation of the “Locomore” open-access service from Stuttgart to Berlin and return in December 2016 was especially noteworthy as it was crowdfunded; the first railway operation of this type.
Running via Heidelberg, Darmstadt, Frankfurt-Süd, Kassel, Hannover and Wolfsburg, the operation consists of one out-and-back diagram running Thursdays to Sundays inclusive (LOC1818 06:21 Stuttgart Hbf to Berlin Lichtenberg and LOC1819 14:28 return).
From its introduction on 14th December 2016, the service was notable for being frequently reported as being fantastic from a customer service perspective, but also being quite poorly loaded, although this was improving as the service became better-known.
Motive power has always been provided by Class 182 (Siemens “Taurus”) electric locos from Hector Rail (in turn hired by them from MRCE Dispolok). The locomotives to work the train were (in numerical order): 182 501, 182 509, 182 517 and 182 534. 182 509 is notable as the loco painted in the “Pan-European Picnic” livery; however, both it and 534 have now left the Hector Rail fleet. Locos would stay with the train sometimes for months on end!
182 509 sits on the blocks at Stuttgart Hbf, 05/05/17 (JW)
Unfortunately, in May 2017, Locomore GmbH & Co. KG filed for insolvency and the operation ceased, with the locos going back to Hector Rail and the stock heading for store at Neustrelitz works.
Happily, LEO Express (the Czech open-access operator known for running Stadler FLIRT EMUs mainly between Praha and Bohumín) has acquired the operation, and as of today, the service has restarted – using the same paths, locos and carriages. The loco on LOC1819 from Berlin to Stuttgart today was, again, 182 517!
Hopefully this interesting service now has a stable and successful future ahead of it.