New city2city network will launch next month with a fleet of 15 vehicles, but National Express chief Dean Finch says ‘the potential is enormous’

National Express Group will launch its city2city German coach business in April with a small 15-vehicle operation as a precursor to its ambition to provide the country’s “largest network of national long-distance coaches”.

The business, based on the contracted concession model operated by National Express in the UK, will initially run three routes from Frankfurt to Munich, Dusseldorf and Duisburg in the North Rhine-Westphalia region where it will also begin operating two regional rail contracts in December 2015. Each route will offer five services per day operated with new Mercedes Benz vehicles. A further phase is scheduled to be launched in July with services into northern and eastern Germany. Introductory offers include 10,000 tickets priced at five euros. NEG said regular fares would be 40% cheaper than competing regional rail services. It expects city2city to carry half a million passengers in its first year.

NEG chief executive Dean Finch said that the business was expected to be loss making for up to two years but “the potential is enormous”.

The launch coincides with the repeal of legislation designed to protect Deutsche Bahn’s rail services from competition. The newly-liberalised market is akin to the UK model with operators free to register and deregister services.

The business is overseen by the MD of National Express Germany, Roderick Donker van Heel, formerly general manager of NEG’s Eurolines international coaching business in Germany. city2city is being assisted by a team drawn from NEG’s UK and Spanish coaching businesses.

NEG expects an intense post liberalisation flurry of start-up businesses and that up to four major coach operators, including Deutsche Bahn, will emerge within a few years.

 

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