It will shape the image of regional transport for many years to come. “Desiro HC” is the name of the model that will be used from December 2022 on the regional express line 1, i.e. the most important line in the capital region.

On Thursday, the Verkehrsverbund Berlin-Brandenburg (VBB), the manufacturer Siemens and the private Ostdeutsche Eisenbahn (Odeg) presented the new “Desiro” train in Brandenburg an der Havel. The Berlin Secretary of State for Transport, Meike Niedbal, wanted to sign the new transport contract there on the platform that afternoon.

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From the timetable change in December, Odeg will take over the RE1 from Deutsche Bahn. Then there will be three trains per hour during rush hour, so far there have only been two between Magdeburg, Brandenburg an der Havel, Frankfurt (Oder) and Cottbus, with some of the trains only running between Brandenburg and Frankfurt.

And not only are there more trains, they also have significantly more space. Because the HC behind Desiro stands for “High Capacity”.

Odeg will also use the Desiro on the new RE line 8 (Wismar-Berlin). In 2019, the company had ordered multiple units from Siemens for over 300 million euros.

In 2021, the VBB increased the volume again in order to be able to cope with the future number of passengers. Now, in December, 15 six-car and 14 four-car trains for the RE1, RE8 and RB17 lines are to be ready.

Bahn and Odeg each won two lots in the VBB tender for the Elbe-Spree network in 2019. The VBB had stipulated that a company may only win a maximum of two lots and that the two most important lots 1 (with the RE1) and 2 (including RE2, RB10, RB14 and Flughafenexpress) go to two different companies. This was to prevent a monopoly. A sensation was that the railway had lost the flagship line RE1, and that for the next twelve years.

From December, the trains in the Odeg colors of yellow, green and white will be running through Berlin on the Stadtbahn. So far, the length of the platforms has been the limiting factor in the region. At the smaller stations between Frankfurt and Brandenburg, only five cars plus a locomotive fit on the platform – this section is the most crowded.

The Desiro does not have a locomotive, the drive is built into the wagons. Passengers now have six cars with 637 seats. In some cases, two four-part units are coupled, which then offer 800 seats. These cannot stop at the smaller stations.

An extension of all stations for eight cars on the RE1 route is part of the billion-euro infrastructure program “i2030”, which the states of Berlin and Brandenburg, VBB and Bahn have agreed. It is unclear whether and when it will be possible to extend the stations. In other countries it is customary to lock the doors of those wagons that no longer fit on the platform. This is forbidden in Germany.

All RE trains in the Elbe-Spree network will have WiFi from December, as determined by the VBB. According to Odeg, the Desiro trains are characterized by modern monitors and wide doors and entrances. The doors are designed for the different platform heights.

In addition, the trains have a “real-time occupancy indicator” and an “aggression detection system” that is intended to sound an alarm if passengers bump into each other on the train. There is also more space for bicycles and wheelchairs. The end cars are single-deck, the two or four middle cars have two decks.