“That means all prices for long-distance travel with Deutsche Bahn remain the same, and I believe that is a very good message,” company board member Ulrich Homburg said.
The move aims to help the rail service compete with airlines, which often offer cheaper and faster travel options. But it is also a positive signal to customers who have recently been confronted with major service disruptions, including weather delays in winter and dangerously hot temperatures on trains after air-conditioning malfunctions over the summer.
The company has also been under fire for its handling of protests against the controversial Stuttgart 21 rail project. CEO Rüdiger Grube has strictly refused to meet opponents’ request to halt construction of the massive project during mediated talks.
While the price of long-haul tickets will not rise, regional customers will be still be charged an additional 1.9 percent for their tickets after the annual schedule change on December 12, the company said.
Homberg said the increases were necessary to cover rising operation costs.
Parliamentary consumer policy spokesperson for the pro-business Free Democrats Erik Schweickert said that although regional increases were disappointing, he welcomed Deutsche Bahn’s overall decision.
“An increase in long-haul ticket prices would have absolutely been the wrong signal,” he said. “Because customers have already paid far too much for the countless slip-ups of the last year.”
Meanwhile the VCD ecological travel club criticised the regional price hike.
“More than 90 percent of all train passengers are travelling regionally,” VCD rail consultant Heidi Tischmann said. “This environmentally friendly travel behaviour can’t be punished through higher ticket prices.”
On Monday consumer advocacy groups had said Deutsche Bahn should refrain from price increases due poor service quality.