The 9-euro ticket has been a topic of discussion for weeks, but it can still cause enthusiasm: In Nordhorn, on the border with the Netherlands, a group of young people - maybe 14 years old - is standing at the train station on Monday.

The teenagers get all excited as they crowd around the machine.

"Dude, I can book the 9-euro ticket here," shouts one.

Another looks into his wallet: “I have 45 euros with me, I can book for all of us.” Trains have only been running in the town again for a few years, no wonder that the biggest discount campaign in the history of local public transport is taking place here well received.

Corinna Budras

Business correspondent in Berlin.

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Gustave parts

Business correspondent in Stuttgart.

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But there is also great interest in all other regions.

In any case, the more than 200,000 customers who secured such a ticket via the group sales channels of Deutsche Bahn by noon on the first day of sale seem to be similarly enthusiastic, just as if the ticket were valid from Monday and was only limited to a certain contingent .

However, this is not the case.

The reduced fare only applies from Wednesday next week and has no restrictions.

And yet: "We are currently experiencing historically large access to our sales systems," explains the boss of the subsidiary DB Regio, Jörg Sandvoß, who in turn lets his own enthusiasm run free.

“Moving everything we have”

He praised the “enormous simplicity of the ticket, which is valid in all transport associations in Germany.

“There has never been anything like it.

However, he admitted that he had “no idea” how many passengers would use the offer.

Other transport associations also reported similar sales successes, sometimes there were long queues at the ticket counters.

The ticket has been available in the capital since Friday, where the Berlin public transport company registered 130,000 tickets sold within three days.

Occasionally, desperate voices can also be heard on the short message portal Twitter on Monday, reporting unsuccessful sales attempts.

The technology does not seem to be fully developed everywhere.

But otherwise the positive realization outweighs that day:

The rush could be a foretaste of what will also happen on public transport buses and trains by the end of August.

However, long-distance trains are spared.

In order to master this, Deutsche Bahn wants to use additional trains and personnel. “We are preparing and are literally moving everything we have – trains, buses, service staff,” emphasized Sandvoß, but admitted that the options were limited .

The group can only muster 50 more regional trains, in addition to the 7,000 trains that are already in use.

The offer on tourist routes is also to be increased on the public holidays.

More than 700 additional service and security employees are to support travellers, and Deutsche Bahn also works with external service providers to do this.

Action is scientifically accompanied

The 9 euro ticket is sparking demand that transport companies could only dream of during the corona pandemic.

Since March 2020, they have been struggling with a drastic drop in passenger numbers.

The ticket failures were so great that the federal and state governments each had to add more than one million euros a year as a corona rescue package.

In any case, the pandemic shock seems to have been overcome for the time being: In the meantime, the pre-corona numbers have almost been reached again, reports Sandvoß, and now the 9 euro ticket is ensuring further inflow.

It helps to dampen the expectations of excited customers in advance: the transport company could not cope with this rush without sacrificing punctuality, conceded Bahn Manager Sandvoß and referred to the summer of 2020 for comparison:

At this fabulously low price, the income from customers will continue to be sparse for the next three months, but Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) has already promised to plug the newly torn holes: the federal government is providing 2.5 billion euros for this to disposal.

The benefits for the transport company will also be different: They hope for an invaluable advertising effect - and for more detailed knowledge for the expansion of local public transport, which is pending in the next few years: about the effects of the nine-euro ticket on local public transport to be evaluated, the Federal Transport Minister has the campaign scientifically monitored.

Interest in the evaluation has also been expressed abroad.