The chairman of railway union Transnet Alexander Kirchner accused railway operator Deutsche Bahn of playing on the fears of its employees by threatening job cuts. “I can’t understand these announcements,” he told news magazine Der Spiegel. “DB is the only railway company in Europe that is still in the black.”
The company threatened job cuts earlier this year after citing the drastic reduction of freight transport following the financial crisis.
But Kirchner said that the age structure and demographic development of DB’s workforce was more likely to lead to understaffing in the next decade. “We’re already seeing the problem that the company is completely undermanned in certain areas,” he said.
Kirchner advised the new DB boss Rüdiger Grube as to how he should go about reducing the company’s €15 billion debts. “Instead of cutting jobs, he should work together with the government to put more traffic on the railways,” he said, before adding that a further €6 billion were needed in the coming years for new trains.
The Transnet boss, who is also a DB board member, downplayed notions that the company would go public soon. “Going public is not under discussion at the moment,” he said.
German Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer recently announced a new billion-euro programme for re-investing in the railways. Kirchner welcomed the plan. “He just needs to say how it will be financed,” he warned. “A road charge for trucks would be a way of doing it.”