A very 21st century solution to the old problem of financing a new rail line has been launched in Germany – crowdfunding. The use of crowdfunding, a way of raising finance for a project by asking a large number of people each for a small amount of money is an increasingly popular way of launching a project. Though more usually driving developments in online projects, entertainment or catering it could soon be powering new long distance passenger trains between Berlin and Stuttgart if the team at Locomore get their way (... and funding).
Planning to become operational in September 2016, Locomore will run trains once a day, from Stuttgart to Berlin in the morning, travelling via Frankfurt and Hanover, and return in the afternoon. The advance sale of ticket vouchers with especially low launch prices has already begun. The company says it needs a minimum of €450 000 to cover start-up costs including the lease of locomotives and coaches and for staff recruitment and it has a fundraising target of €780 000. So far €150 000 has been agreed and loans worth €60 000 are expected, leaving €240 000 to be raised. The crowd-funding platform startnext.com has been deployed to make up this shortfall. We believe that this is the first time crowdfunding is being used to support a rail line.
Locomore was founded by Derek Ladewig in 2007 with the aim of getting an alternative to the Deutsche Bahn on track. He was involved in the initiation of the Hamburg-Köln-Express (HKX) but Derek Ladewig and several of his colleagues left HKX prior to its the start of operation due to insurmountable differences regarding the strategic direction with the American majority investor RDC in the area of HKX product development. Their enthusiasm for long-distance trains remained nevertheless untainted, and their desire to create an alternative to Deutsche Bahn.
VIDEO: Wir bringen neue Züge auf die Gleise! / Bringing new trains to the tracks! (Ein Deutsch Sprache Video / The video is in German)
The trains will are planned to be modern IC coaches with tables, Wi-Fi and power outlets travelling at 200km/h. They’ll also have a focus on sustainability running on green power, use braking energy restitution and provide organic and fairtrade on-board catering.
For tickets and further information please visit locomore.com/startnext.
Editor’s comment – in an era where funding from government and financial institutions is hard to secure, crowdfunded rail is interesting development. The linking of rail travel to the community and further synergy with issues of sustainability can make an attractive proposition to small investors and supporters. And with the team already having had experience with the open access Köln-Express (HKX) it is certainly a project that the team at SmartRail World will follow closely. Viel Glück Locomore!
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