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Rail Stories

Keeping Germany’s financial capital livable

Often referred to as 'Mainhattan' because of its location on Germany’s Main river, Frankfurt has emerged as the nation’s economic heart. But despite development and massive population growth, investments into rail transport have helped Frankfurt remain one of the best places to live.  

Even though some Frankfurters don’t love the Wall Street nickname, preferring the title ‘World's Smallest Metropolis,’ the city will probably never shake its economic image. A financial city since the Middle Ages, Frankfurt is home to the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and the DAX, as well as the headquarters of the European Central Bank, Commerzbank and Deutsche Bank. In addition to a long list of other important economic services, institutions, companies, Mainhattan is also a major regional and international rail hub and home to Germany’s busiest airport. 


Expanding public transportation for a growing city

Urbanization and population growth come with economic progress and, even though it’s a relatively small city, Frankfurt’s population is expected to continue its growth for decades at least. Keeping the city moving every day, to and from work, to visit the grandchildren or go to the doctor, is overseen by the regional operator Rhine-Main Transport Association (RMV). 

In 2019, RMV transported
over 800 million passengers
- more than ever before and projections show that by 2030 the number will reach the billions. But Frankfurt has already laid the groundwork for strong rail mobility and the rising number of commuters switching to public transport shows how effective a tool urban mobility is in balancing development and livability.

A lone TRAXX AC locomotive hauls a passenger train in Frankfurt. Called Frankfurt am Main to distinguish it from the second Frankfurt on the Oder river, Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof is one of Germany’s busiest train stations and a keystone of the city’s public transit system. Photo: Mathias Oestreich

Frankfurt offers an impressive urban transport system that keeps its nearly 2.5 million urban residents moving in, out of, and around the city each day.

FLEXITY Swift tram

The vehicles operate at a maximum speed of 70 km/h and were delivered in two sizes to give Frankfurt more operational flexibility. The 25-metre long centre modules do not feature a driver’s cab and can be coupled to the 50-metre versions to quickly create 75 or 100-metre long vehicles.

First entering service in 2011, Frankfurt’s fleet of 224 FLEXITY 
Swift trams is currently being expanded as we are in the process of building 22 centre cars for Verkehrsgesellschaft Frankfurt’s (VGF) fleet of vehicles at our Bautzen site.

The modern FLEXITY Swift Light Rail Vehicle’s (LRV) multi-purpose areas provide space for wheelchairs, luggage and strollers. They also feature entrances with eight or four,
wide double-doors, enabling speedy 
and obstacle-free access for
passengers. Many of the newer vehicles are equipped with video surveillance systems to enhance security and prevent vandalism while air-conditioning ensures a pleasant commute during Germany’s hot summer days. 

INNOVIA APM 100 system

With all the bustling international business, people need to be able to get into and out of Frankfurt quickly and easily. Luckily for them, Frankfurt
am Main Airport has been equipped with an INNOVIA APM 100 automated people mover system. Known as the SkyTrain, it was Germany’s first automatic people mover system and helps Germany’s busiest airport move its 65 million passengers per year.

We didn’t just manufacture the Frankfurt Airport’s high-performing turnkey transit system; we’ve also been operating and maintaining it since it opened over 25 years ago. 
We recently signed a ten-year maintenance contract that includes upgrading the system’s signalling to our communication based CITYFLO
650 solution - extending its lifecycle for at least another ten years while increasing the system’s performance and flexibility – which already has nearly 100 per cent availability. 

Fraport, the transport company that operates the Frankfurt Airport, has a fleet of 18 INNOVIA vehicles which makes over 10,000,000 combined trips per year. The trains depart every 90 seconds during peak hours and every carriage can hold up to 60 passengers with their luggage.  

25th anniversary of Germany’s first automatic people mover system at Frankfurt airport

In October of 2019, we celebrated the 25th anniversary of Frankfurt Airport's SkyLine, Germany's first automated people mover system.  

Fast facts: Frankfurt’s public transport system

303 km of S-Bahn track

2,067 regional trips per weekday

55 regional rail services

400+ LRVs and trams

390 railway stations

215+ km of light rail and tram track

TRAXX locomotives 

Not only for freight operation, the TRAXX locomotive can also haul trains for passenger service. Photo: Mathias Oestreich 

Our proven locomotives also provide Frankfurt with hauling capacity. To keep people moving in and around Frankfurt, amongst others TRAXX AC and TRAXX DEME locomotives are busy.

A smart investment into sustainable mobility, the electric TRAXX AC locomotives feature a regenerative braking system that reduces energy needs by capturing lost energy from braking and feeding that energy back into the overhead system. The TRAXX AC is also a high-performance mobility solution, stronger than earlier generations. Referred to as the ‘whispering locomotive’, the TRAXX DEME is also much quieter than older diesel locomotives.

Class 430 Electric Multiple Unit trains 

RMV’s investments into public mobility, has also helped keep the area livable for business commuters or those looking for a quieter life outside the city. Currently, 91 Class 430 Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) commuter trains are in service in Frankfurt, and an additional seven trains for Deutsche Bahn’s Rhine-Main S-Bahn line will expand public transport services in Frankfurt and the surrounding area. These new trains will be operated by the RMV, in the main railway network in Germany’s Frankfurt Rhine-Main area.

With passenger ridership having increased over ten per cent, the S-Bahn is truly the backbone of public rail transport in the region. The new Rhine-Main S-Bahn trains will make a significant contribution to further sustainable mobility moving forward.

Frankfurt's seven new Class 430 EMUs will link easily with the first-generation of trains that have been in steady passenger service for six years. The new trains feature video surveillance to increase passenger and employee safety, and its expansive layout and air-conditioning system ensures passenger comfort – specifically during Germany’s hot summers. Additionally, the trains have a wide multi-purpose area and a modern passenger information system displaying up-to-date information on connecting trains.

The S-Bahn is constantly growing and offers a wide-range of products and services. For example, from 2018 to 2019, passenger numbers on the S-Bahn network
increased by over ten per cent to 177 million trips – a new record. In December 2019, a new S-Bahn station opened resulting in a shortened commute time from Frankfurt Central Station to Gateway Gardens, Frankfurt’s new Business Quartier, by 20 minutes. Now, the journey only takes ten.  

Mainhattan: a great place to work, an even better place to live

Even with all its rapid growth and economic hustle and bustle, Frankfurt is still one of the world’s better places to live. While it ranks in the top five of Germany’s strongest economic cities, Mainhattan’s city limits are considered “green”, with over 50 per cent of the area within city limits being forest, park or grass. And that’s not it, according to business consultancy agency Mercer’s 2019 Quality of Living Report, Frankfurt ranks number seven globally on a combined matrix of factors that includes, economics, transport and other indicators. Arcadis is another agency that placed Frankfurt in the top ten in their 2018 global review of the world’s Most Citizen Centric Cities. Balancing strong economic growth with a robust and efficient public transportation has helped keep the World’s Smallest Metropolis livable.