Deutsche Bahn faces long-distance bus rivals

National rail provider Deutsche Bahn will soon have competition from cheaper, faster bus coaches if the new government coalition’s plans to remove a long-haul bus ban go through, daily Berliner Zeitung reported on Thursday.

Deutsche Bahn faces long-distance bus rivals
Photo: DPA

Deutsche Bahn already faces unwanted competition from French peer SNCF, which has said it intends to compete on major European routes and inter-city service in Germany.

Most long-haul bus services are currently banned within Germany to protect the rail service from competition, but this could end by 2011 pending approval of details in the coalition contract between Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats and her junior coalition partners the Free Democrats.

“There are already companies in the starting gate,” head of the International Coach Tourism Federation Dieter Gauf told the paper. “When the law goes down they’ll go for it.”

Coach service between large and medium German cities could be offered at prices some 30 to 40 percent lower than Deutsche Bahn prices, head of the BDO association of German omnibus companies Martin Kaßler said. The demand for the service on the few lines already allowed to operate within the country is high he said, citing some 400,000 passengers per year between Berlin and Hamburg.

Since 1931 all long-haul bus services, except those that travel to and from Berlin, have been restricted in Germany. Only bus companies that apply for a special Deutsche Bahn-approved permit can get around the ban.

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Germany’s centre-right CDU to elect new leadership by end of the year

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's CDU party will elect its new leadership by the year's end, general secretary Paul Ziemiak said Monday, detailing plans for a clean slate after a disastrous election that the party lost to the Social Democrats.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and CDU leader Armin Laschet on the election campaign trail in Aachen before the election.
Chancellor Angela Merkel and CDU leader Armin Laschet on the election campaign trail in Aachen before the election. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Federico Gambarini

In power for 16 years under Merkel, the Christian Democratic Union is grappling with its deepest crisis in decades after turning in a historic low score in September’s election.

Its leader Armin Laschet last week signalled his readiness to step aside, setting the ball rolling for renewal at the top.

READ ALSO: Laschet signals he’s ready to step down as CDU leader

Ziemiak said a date for the congress to determine the new makeup of the party’s top brass as well as how rank and file members can participate in the leadership selection process will be announced on November 2nd.

But the party’s leaders “today agreed unanimously that we will elect a completely new executive board,” he said, adding that in terms of the calendar, the “window for this is year’s end”.

Bild daily had reported that the party has made a tentative booking for December 6th-13th in Dresden for its possible congress.

READ ALSO: Germany edges a step closer to a government led by Social Democrats

Laschet, who is state premier of Germany’s most populous region North Rhine-Westphalia, was elected head of the CDU in January.

For some time, he was the clear favourite to succeed Merkel, who is bowing out of politics after running four consecutive coalitions.

But his party’s ratings began to slide as he committed a series of gaffes, including being caught on camera laughing in the background during a solemn tribute to flood victims.

With the CDU’s ratings plunging, Merkel tried to boost Laschet’s campaign with joint appearances, but was unable to help the conservatives pull off a win on election day.