Picture York Christoph Riccius
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Locomore, the crowdfunded German train route, is ready to roll

Image credit: A Locomore train, yesterday

The world's first crowd-funded train route is about to be launched in Germany.

“We are all ready to roll,” Derek Ladewig, CEO and founder of Locomore, told E&T on the closing day of Innotrans, the world’s largest railway exhibition, in Berlin last Friday.

Founded in 2007 with the aim to provide an alternative to the Deutsche Bahn, it took Locomore nine years to reach its fundraising target of 780,000 euros – the sum that will allow to run trains on the route between Berlin and Stuttgart (via Frankfurt and Hannover).

Locomore made history by successfully using crowdfunding - asking a large number of people to donate a small amount of money each - as a way of financing a new rail line.

In this case, the funds were raised primarily by selling ticket and catering vouchers, T-shirts, mugs and other travel-related goodies.

Unlike many other train operators, Locomore is going to sacrifice high speeds to the commitment of being greener than most. It says the route will be powered by high-quality renewable energy. Its locomotives’ maximum speed will be 200km/h, and lower energy consumption will result in lower running costs and consequently lower fares, with free seat reservations, insignificant cancellation fees and free travel for children under 14 accompanied by an adult.

The standard starting prices will be seven euros for short journeys, 13 euros for mid-range journeys and 20 euros for longer distances. Depending on the number of bookings, those could vary, but the maximum fare will always be less than half of what is charged for the same journey by Deutsche Bahn, which dominates the German market at present as the country’s virtually sole provider of long-distance passenger services.

Locomore makes an emphasis on passengers’ comfort, and its trains will all have spaces for bicycles, special children’s and family compartments, as well as spacious business sections. The food served on the trains will be organic and fair trade.

At Innotrans in Berlin, Ladewig showed E&T a sample Bmz passenger coach – a former Bm-235, specially refurbished by Atelierele CFR Grivita, Bucharest to fit the product design of Locomore. The bright orange car is equipped with emergency brake bypass, vacuum toilets and a new Icomera Wi-Fi System.

“We are confident of success due to our moving prices and all the new comforts,” said Ladewig.

The first Locomore trains will start running between Stuttgart and Berlin on 14 December 2016.

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