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Route of HKX[1]
note that the trains do not stop at Sagehorn yet.[2]
Locale Germany
Dates of operation 2012–
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Electrification 15 kV 16.7 Hz
Headquarters Cologne

Hamburg-Köln-Express GmbH (HKX) is a Cologne-based open-access train operating company providing long-distance railway passenger services in Germany. It was founded in October 2009 as a joint venture by Railroad Development Corporation (RDC) Deutschland GmbH, an affiliate of USA-based Railroad Development Corp., Locomore rail GmbH & CO. KG, and British railway investor Michael Schabas.[3]

Since 23 July 2012, HKX has operated regular services between Hamburg-Altona and Cologne. The journey takes about 4h 20min,[4] similar to that of services operated by DB but with lower fares.[5]


Services were initially planned to start in August 2010 but this was postponed[6] as there were unresolved pathing conflicts between Keolis and HKX in the access application process with DB infrastructure affiliate DB Netz. After Keolis withdrew its applications in April 2010, a framework contract was signed in June 2010. The framework contract expires in December 2015.[7]

As of March 2012 the proposed service had still not had its safety case approved by the national rail authority EBA.[8]

HKX began selling tickets on 4 July 2012 and started operation on 23 July 2012.


HKX train at Hamburg Hauptbahnhof, February 2013

HKX operates at least one train each way each day. From Thursdays to Sundays, additional trains provide up to three trains per day each way, including a late-night "Mitternachts-Express" (Midnight Express) on Sundays, reaching Hamburg at 01.55 the following morning. Fares for the entire route range from €20 to €60.[4][8]

The Hamburg-Köln-Express calls at most intermediate stations also served by DB long-distance trains, but leaves out Düsseldorf Airport and Bremen Hbf. HKX uses the freight line bypassing Bremen, reducing the journey time to Hamburg. Instead, an additional stop at nearby Sagehorn was planned, but this has not yet been achieved.[2]

On 14 March 2012 Veolia Verkehr, a subsidiary of Veolia-Transdev, signed an agreement to operate the services under contract to HKX. Veolia will provide drivers and locomotives. Temporarily, services are operated with former Rheingold coaches hauled by leased Siemens ES 64 U2 "Taurus" type electric locos, which are to be replaced by refurbished Class 4010 type trainsets formerly owned by ÖBB.[9]

Company's founders[edit]

RDC Deutschland GmbH (75%) is based in Berlin and is a 100% subsidiary of the Railroad Development Corporation (RDC). RDC is a Pittsburgh-based railway investment and management company founded in 1987 by Henry Posner III and Robert A. Pietrandrea which has invested in railway operations all over the world. locomore rail GmbH & CO. KG (17.5%) is a railway traffic enterprise in Berlin with the focus on long-distance traffic. Michael Schabas (7.5%) is a railway investor in London.


Eva Kreienkamp, CEO and CFO, responsible for business development, strategy, marketing, sales and communication, finances, controlling, legal issues, purchase, human resources. Also managing director RDC Deutschland GmbH. Carsten Carstensen, COO, responsible for railway operations and service operation. Also managing director of the railway traffic company locomore Rail GmbH.


  1. ^ Locomore Rail.
  2. ^ a b "Hamburg-Köln-Express hält erst ab Dezember 2012 im Raum Bremen" (Press release) (in German). Verkehrsverbund Bremen/Niedersachsen. 
  3. ^ "Ryanair auf Schienen". WirtschaftsWoche. Nr. 46, 9 November 2009.(German)
  4. ^ a b "HKX Timetable". Retrieved 24 July 2012. 
  5. ^ "Wir sind billiger". WirtschaftsWoche Nr. 15. 12 April 2010.(German)
  6. ^ "Privatanbieter attackiert Bahn mit Billig-Angeboten". Welt Online. 12 August 2011.(German)
  7. ^ "Konkurrenten der Bahn geben auf". Süddeutsche Zeitung (Munich). Nr. 82, 10 April 2010.(German)
  8. ^ a b "Inter-city competition edges closer". Railway Gazette International (London). 14 March 2012. 
  9. ^ "HKX prepares to take on DB". Railway Gazette International (London). 5 July 2012. 

External links[edit]