The Erfurter Bahn (EB, lit. "Erfurt railway") is a railway company and public transit system serving the city of Erfurt, the capital of Thuringia, Germany. Erfurter Bahn is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Erfurt city council, and Süd-Thüringen-Bahn, operating between Erfurt and Meiningen, is a subsidiary of the former. Services are operated by Regio-Shuttle RS1 and Bombardier Itino trains.
Operations began in 1912 under the name of Städtische Industriebahn (Municipal industrial railway), rebranded as the Erfurter Industriebahn in 1990 to coincide with its acquisition by the city council, and as the Erfurter Bahn in 2007 after passenger transport was added.
The town of Erfurt operated an industrial railway, the Städtische Industriebahn (Municipal industrial railway), which commenced service on 8 May 1912. Even during the period of East Germany, the company remained independent, because it was organised as a municipal institution (Städtischer Eigenbetrieb). After the reunification of Germany, the town tried to secure the railway service and founded on 1 May 1990 a GmbH, the Erfurter Industriebahn (EIB), with all capital shares held by Erfurt. On 20 September 1995 the company became the first municipal enterprise in East Germany to be recognized as a "öffentliche nichtbundeseigene Eisenbahn" (public non-federal railway). As the transport of goods alone seemed to have no future perspective, the company tried to enter regional passenger transport in Thuringia, a privilege that was granted on 10 April 1997. On 15 September that year, a contract was signed by the state of Thuringia and the EIB. The new focus was reflected in a new name, "Erfurter Bahn", on 3 March 2007. Erfurter Bahn is a subsidiary of the Erfurt city council. The trains used for passenger transport are Regio-Shuttle RS1 and Bombardier Itino.
In 1999 the EIB founded, together with the Hessische Landesbahn, the subsidiary Süd-Thüringen-Bahn (STB) directed from Meiningen, which carries regional traffic in southern Thuringia, while only the connections Erfurt–Würzburg and Erfurt–Meiningen are operated by the federal Deutsche Bahn. After years of developing new rules and guidelines, the Federal Railway Authority (Eisenbahn-Bundesamt) granted on 24 January 2014 a permission to the Regio-Shuttle-Triebwagen (Regional Shuttle Railcar) of the Erfurter Bahn to run on steep tracks, without remodeling. The track Bahnstrecke Plaue–Themar can thus be served, and the track Bahnstrecke Suhl–Schleusingen upon reopening.
Erfurter Bahn and Süd-Thüringen-Bahn employed in 2014 around 440 people. The railway designed a special train celebrating 1000 Jahre Leipzig in 2015, the celebration of the first documentation of the city.
Line 46 was opened on 14 December 2002. Known as the Bahnstrecke Plaue–Themar, it runs from Erfurt Hauptbahnhof via Ilmenau to the Rennsteig.
Lines 40 and 50 are called the Unterfranken Shuttle. Line 40 on the Schweinfurt–Meiningen railway, serves Schweinfurt and Meiningen, Line 50 on the Franconian Saale Valley Railway, serves Gemünden am Main, Bad Kissingen and Schweinfurt, ending not at the central station but continuing to Schweinfurt Stadt.
From 2012 the EB served additional lines in eastern Thuringia and into Saxony and Saxony-Anhalt, called the Elster Saale Bahn, including line 22 on the Leipzig–Probstzella railway, line 13 on the Werdau–Mehltheuer railway serving Gera, Weida, Zeulenroda and Hof, line 21 on the Weimar–Gera railway, serving Weimar, Gera and Jena, line 47 on the Arnstadt–Saalfeld railway, serving Erfurt Arnstadt, Rottenbach and Saalfeld, line 26 on the Weimar–Kranichfeld railway, serving Weimar Bad Berka and Kranichfeld, line 28 on the Orla Railway, serving Jena Kahla and Orlamünde, and line 32 on the Hockeroda–Unterlemnitz railway, serving Saalfeld Leutenberg, Wurzbach, Bad Lobenstein and Blankenstein. The trademark Elster Saale Bahn and the opening of these new lines in eastern Thuringia was announced at the centenary of the Erfurter Bahn.Frehner Consulting GmbH (ed.): Erfurter Bahn, Kommt gut an – In Tradition und Leistung seit 1912 (in German) 2007
Burkhard Beyer: Thüringer fahren bald in Bayern. Erfurter Industriebahn expandiert. In: LOK MAGAZIN. Nr. 261/Jahrgang 42/2003. GeraNova Zeitschriftenverlag GmbH München, ISSN 0458-1822, p. 18.