It is claiming compensation for damages it says its subsidiary Schenker has sustained as a result, a spokesman told AFP.
He said Deutsche Bahn was launching a lawsuit in a court in Cologne as well as in New York.
The US case concerns the United States market and targets, among other airlines, Air France, he added.
According to the Wirtschaftswoche business weekly, Deutsche Bahn is claiming damages totalling around two billion euros ($2.5 billion).
Another online report by Germany's Sueddeutsche Zeitung said 17 airlines were targeted in Deutsche Bahn's action.
In 2010, Europe's competition watchdog hit 11 airlines with nearly €800 million in fines for running a global cargo cartel that included Air France-KLM, British Airways and Japan Airlines.
The 11 cargo carriers coordinated their action on surcharges for fuel and security without discounts over a six-year period, between December 1999 and February 2006, the European Commission said.