• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

EU plans threaten to break up Deutsche Bahn

The Local · 17 Dec 2012, 11:37

Published: 17 Dec 2012 11:37 GMT+01:00

EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas is to unveil a raft of new measures in January that will radically open Europe's rail markets and seriously affect Deutsche Bahn's business, Die Welt newspaper reported on Monday.

Kallas wants to turn Europe into a single large network, abolishing previous monopoly structures.

In the proposal, quoted in the paper, Kallas wrote that the aim was to prevent "conflicts of interest" within network operators, and abolish "the potential for cross-financing that occurs in integrated structures." He believes the move will foster greater efficiency and save European taxpayers €23 billion.

The commissioner is supported by a recent EU survey which found that only 46 percent of Europeans are satisfied with their national rail service, and that trains have the lowest satisfaction ratings of any public transport system.

Deutsche Bahn CEO Rüdiger Grube told Die Welt that resisting Kallas' plans is one of his top priorities. He said the measures would mean that the separation of Germany's rail network ownership and train operations would come in December 2019, four years earlier than previously planned.

Story continues below…

The German government has also consistently opposed the plans.

The Local/bk

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

12:14 December 17, 2012 by pepsionice
After having traveled via a number of European rail systems....I would come to say that the Bahn is the best run system of all. They rarely if ever, run late. The accommodations are generally good (unless in the heat of the summer with the two-star HVAC systems they have). I don't don't think splitting it up would save any money in the long-run.
13:42 December 17, 2012 by Karl_Berlin
It cannot be the case that it is cheaper for me to rent a car, fill it with petrol and drive me and my girlfriend to Jena and back than it is for us to get 2 second-class return train tickets with Bahncard 2 reductions.

Go check out Interconnex to see how much cheaper tickets can be once DB's grip is loosened.
13:44 December 17, 2012 by thinktwice
@pepsionice: I have traveled via a number of railways too, but nowhere have I seen such ridiculous delays and high prices as with DB. The only thing they have better than others are the toilets.

Quoted from "Deutsche Welle" (http://www.dw.de/deutsche-bahn-to-publish-monthly-punctuality-statistics-online/a-15277541)

"A study of 20 German railway stations published by the consumer advocacy group Stiftung Warentest in February found that only 32 percent of long-distance trains arrived on time. To make matters worse, three out of four high-speed ICE trains were delayed."
15:21 December 17, 2012 by LecteurX
Yep, I second comments #2 and 3. Deutsche Bahn is a decent railway operator, but its fares are far too high and the "Leistung" is not that great for the price you pay. France's SNCF or Spain's RENFE generally offer better value for money for routes of comparable sizes as the German long-distance, high-speed lines.

I travel to Cologne from Berlin a couple of times per year and flying there is always considerably cheaper than taking the train (I don't have a BahnCard, but then I'm not entitled to any discounts on flights either). Driving there is longer than taking the train, but also cheaper still. How can that be? I like travelling by train, whether slow or fast. Unfortunately, in Germany it is a luxury I can seldom afford.
15:34 December 17, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
What puzzles me is how DB got away with a monopoly for so long. Freedom to trade within the EU should have meant other train operators can compete for business in Germany. You can be sure if this happened in another EU country the Germans would be complaining about not getting access to these markets.
16:02 December 17, 2012 by JDee
DB own and operate both passenger and extensive freight operations within the UK ( where the rail market is liberated ). Therefore their stance is totally hypocritical.

Generally it should be a good thing, but operators have to be regulated to ensure they meet a minimum requirement of customer service. They should also put in places rules to avoid the fare debacle that exists in the UK.
17:04 December 17, 2012 by Gary K. Taylor
I would never say that the Deutsche Bahn is perfect. Nothing created by human beings is. However, it is a valuable asset to Germany. Margret Thatcher's break-up of British Rail into 9 private companies has been an unmitigated disaster. We will live to regret DB's demise.

Let us consider its strengths and weaknesses. On the plus side, it is making money. It is not a financial black hole for the government. The government only pays for infrastructure improvements such as new high-speed rail lines and station modernizations. An that is not a bad deal for the people. Its cross countrry and international rail service is reasonably good - not perfect - but just ask visitors from countries like the United States, and they will rave about its excellence compared to railroads in most other countries. Many less profitable routes have been successfully transferred Privatbahnen - thereby accutally expanding service to more places than were the case a generation ago.

On the downside, there is an urgent need to restructure train fares so that more people can afford to use the Deutsche Bahn. It would be desireable as well to strengthen the role that Regio Trains play in the DB network. People should be able to travel greater distances (Passau to Nürnberg, München to Stuttgart or Frankfurt, Hannover to Berlin, for example) on the Regios without constantly changing trains.

The Deutsche Bahn is far from being a disaster. It can be easily improved. Moreover, the day is coming when petroleum supplies will be limited, and petroleum prices will be exhorbitant. When it comes to the EU's plans to break-up Deutsche Bahn and other national railways, Germany should just say no.

- Gary K. Taylor
08:42 December 18, 2012 by frankiep
@JDee

DB may be in the UK thanks to the fact that the rail market is "liberated" but that is not the point. I have spent some time traveling around the UK and, of course, Germany. In Germany, my first choice is always to take the train to whichever city I have to go to. In the UK, taking the train is an option that never even crosses my mind.

I have a very bad feeling that the passenger rail system in Germany will turn into a bad joke, like it is in the US, if this proposal goes through. As it stands now, Germany's passenger rail system is one of the best in the world (really). Some improvements can definitely be made, but to scrap the entire organisational structure in favor of something completely different just doesn't make any sense.
11:57 December 18, 2012 by darwiniandemon
Honestly, for the price you pay for the DB, the service is unrealiable, inconsistent, and overall a dreadful experience.

Having moved to Switzerland 1.5 years ago, the SBB/CFF is a clear and perfect example how to run a rail network. Always on-time, clean, and friendly. And a 3 minute delay is really a 3 minute delay. A 5 minute verspätung on the DB can range from 5 minutes delay to the train being cancelled.

Albeit the fare is a little higher, the service is excellent. With a half-tax card, the prices are comparable to DB.
14:02 December 18, 2012 by DocEllis
This would be great news, IF: Prices would come down and available service would expand. More stops longer hours.

DB is not going to like this at all.doc
15:20 December 18, 2012 by franconia
Only the Germans complain, they are World Champion in complaining. Break up DB and you have a Deutsche Amtrak.
08:41 December 19, 2012 by murka
European rail system is ridiculously eclectic, given the relatively short distances. Where are the trains Aberdeen-Athen, Stockholm-Naples, Riga-Lisbon and like? 10 changes you say? Just ridiculous.
17:00 December 19, 2012 by jg.
"DB may be in the UK thanks to the fact that the rail market is "liberated" but that is not the point. I have spent some time traveling around the UK and, of course, Germany. In Germany, my first choice is always to take the train to whichever city I have to go to. In the UK, taking the train is an option that never even crosses my mind."

It is the point. If it was OK to force the UK and other EU member states to liberalise their railways, telecommunications, energy and utility companies - allowing French and German companies to buy them up, then the Germans and French should be made to follow the same rules. The UK is always in the firing line for being such bad Europeans but it is the big two that are evading all the rules and directives that they voted for.
Today's headlines
Analysis
Is it fair to call the AfD far right?
AfD leaders, from left, Georg Pazderski, Frauke Petry and Jörg Meuthen. Photo: DPA.

The AfD has been dubbed "far-right" over the past year as it has taken on a tougher stance against immigration and made gains in state elections. But at what point does one call a group far-right?

Dresden police guard Islamic buildings after mosque attack
The Dresden mosque that was hit by a homemade bomb attack on Monday. Photo: DPA.

All Islamic buildings in the capital of Saxony have been put under police protection on Tuesday after explosive devices were detonated at a mosque and a congress centre in the city.

Germany blocks WhatsApp data transfers to Facebook
Photo: DPA

German data protection authorities on Tuesday said they had blocked Facebook from collecting subscriber data from its subsidiary WhatsApp, citing privacy concerns.

Stuttgart fest pulls in twice as many boozers as Oktoberfest
Is this Oktoberfest or is this Stuttgart's Cannstatter Volksfest? Can you tell the difference? Well, it's Stuttgart. Photo: DPA.

Apparently Munich is no longer the top place to wear lederhosen and down beer one litre at a time.

The Local List
10 German films you have to watch before you die
Photo: DPA

These films are so good, not even The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari made the list.

Young man destroys 17 cars after visiting Oktoberfest

Early on Monday morning a drunk 29-year-old trashed 17 cars after staggering out of Oktoberfest into the Munich streets. It was one of several eye-popping crimes from "Wiesn" over the past few days.

VW emissions scandal
Audi tech chief leaves after reports link him to 'dieselgate'
Audi's head of technical development Stefan Knirsch stepped down on Monday. Photo: DPA.

Audi's head of technical development stepped down "with immediate effect" on Monday, the luxury carmaker announced, after German media accused him of involvement in parent company Volkswagen's "dieselgate" scandal.

Deutsche Bank shares hit lowest level in quarter century
Photo: DPA.

Shares in Deutsche Bank, Germany's biggest lender, sank to a historic low on Monday after reports at the weekend that Berlin had refused state aid for the embattled lender.

The Local List
The 10 worst German cities for students to find digs
Photo: DPA

It's the start of autumn, which means the start of the university year. But along with the excitement comes the stress of finding housing - and in some glamorous locations this can be a nightmare.

German broadcaster sues Turkey over confiscated video
Akif Cagatay Kilic. Photo: DPA

German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle said Monday it had filed a civil complaint after a Turkish minister's office confiscated a taped video interview with him.

Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Lifestyle
10 German films you have to watch before you die
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Lifestyle
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
Lifestyle
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
National
Seven great reasons to stay in Germany this September
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
National
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
National
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
National
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
Culture
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Rhineland
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Culture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
Sponsored Article
The Inner Circle: the secret to dating in Berlin
Lifestyle
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
Gallery
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Society
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
National
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
International
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
Technology
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
Lifestyle
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
Travel
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
6,511
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd