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Competition continues to increase on German rail network

  • Published by Vedat
“The positive trend towards more competition on rail in Germany is still continuing,” announced Dr Rüdiger Grube, Chairman of the Management Board and CEO of Deutsche Bahn, at the presentation of the twelfth DB Competition Report.
Last year, DB’s competitors achieved a share of 25 per cent of the regional rail passenger market in terms of total performance in train kilometres. In the freight sector, the market share of non-DB rail operators in 2012 was even higher, at 28.6 per cent.

“In view of this positive trend in Germany, we can see no reason at all why the EU Commission is so intent on breaking up the integrated rail systems in Europe,” said Dr Grube, commenting on the proposals contained in the fourth railway package presented in Brussels. “On the contrary, the successful German model should serve as a role model for other countries to finally allow more competition on rail.”

Unlike the other transport modes, the German passenger railway undertakings bucked the general decline in demand and actually succeeded in raising traffic performance by four per cent. They also set a new record for the number of passengers, which increased by 49 million year-on-year. Rail freight, however, was faced with a far more difficult market environment in 2012 and the operators lost a small proportion of their market shares to other transport modes. With a decline of around three per cent, however, German rail freight operators still achieved above-average results compared with Europe as a whole, where the average loss amounted to five per cent.

The Competition Report shows that the competitiveness of the railways is faced with increasing pressure from various sides: there is no guaranteed funding for reliable rail infrastructure for the future, the time-consuming and complicated train licensing procedures lead to severe competitive disadvantages compared with the other transport modes and finally, no progress has been made in remedying the distortion of the inner-European competition conditions as regards liberalisation of the passenger transport market.

“We have to prioritise the resolution of these issues in the current debate on transport policies,” demanded Dr Grube. He simultaneously warned of the need to discuss these matters fairly and objectively, based on cost-benefit analyses rather than preconceived opinions, and with the focus on efficient and competitive structures.

In this year’s Competition Report, DB also provides interesting information about competition in the long-distance market, a fact check which gives a transparent picture of the financial relations within the DB Group, joins the discussion about the consequences of ownership unbundling in the energy sector and gives an overview of new comparative studies on the international railway markets.
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