Deutsche Bahn has it all.

It travels with its ICEs in long-distance traffic, with regional trains in local traffic, with S-Bahn trains in metropolitan areas and with buses and trains in countries such as Great Britain, the Netherlands and Poland.

It transports goods all over Europe and organizes logistics chains with planes, ships and trucks around the world.

It operates train stations and power grids, it builds and maintains the infrastructure.

And it operates a rail network of around 33,400 kilometers in Germany, distributes routes and creates timetables.

It is a complete package for everything to do with rail and far beyond.

DB proudly calls itself an integrated group.

Thiemo Heeg

Editor in business.

  • Follow I follow

This is exactly what upsets many critics.

You argue for more competition on the railways.

That was ultimately what the 1994 rail reform was supposed to initiate.

At least one has come closer to the goal.

For a long time now, it is no longer just the state-owned company that drives people and goods through Germany.

A total of more than 400 railway companies are present on the rails in this country, from subsidiaries of large foreign state railways to small private providers.

You can already refer to significant market shares.

In local transport, for example, the share of Deutsche Bahn with its DB Regio division has fallen to less than two thirds; in freight transport, DB Cargo comes to less than half.

Should the web be split up?

Elsewhere, especially in long-distance transport, however, DB continues to be a quasi-monopoly. The critics also see the reason for this in the link between operations and infrastructure under the DB umbrella. To illustrate how impossible this is, some draw a comparison with road traffic: BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen neither owned the German autobahns, nor were they allowed to determine which cars drive on them. This comparison lags somewhat, especially since DB does not also manufacture its own trains. But you can't deny it a grain of reality.

For many years the discussion has been under the heading “Separation of grid and operation”.

There are supporters for this in political Berlin, but no majorities.

Not yet.

That could change after the general election in September.

The voices for a split are therefore louder in advance - and the advocates form surprising associations.

Now a broad alliance has spoken out with a new position paper.

In the publication, which will be published on Monday and which was submitted to the FAZ in advance, a "Rail Reform 2.0" and a "fundamental reform of the rail system" are called for.

The list of signatories ranges from the GDL train drivers' union to consumer advocates, customer and competitor associations and the main association of the German construction industry.

Billion dollar rail fund

The reform desired by those involved shakes fundamental structures of the German rail system. They advocate the establishment and supervision of an independent federal rail infrastructure company - "so that infrastructure management can be geared towards the common good as well as the nationwide network needs," as it is called. You are in favor of a "rail fund" worth billions in order to guarantee financing security. This in turn must be linked to a sustainable construction and maintenance strategy that reduces full closures and large-scale diversions as far as possible.

The organizations are demanding that the federal government concentrate on its core tasks. This includes the definition of rail policy goals, the financing of the infrastructure as well as supervision and regulation. On the other hand, traffic and sales services provided “in fair competition” would bring advantages for customers; State involvement is only necessary here in order to dismantle or prevent monopoly-like structures.

“We need a fundamental new beginning in rail policy. The core is the separation of network and operation, ”says GDL boss Claus Weselsky. In doing so, he takes a contrary view of the EVG railway union - which in turn fits insofar as the two employee organizations are not green and wrestle for power and influence in the group with its 320,000 employees; Last but not least, this is the core of the current collective bargaining round.