Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer (CSU) has sent a letter to Richard Lutz, Chairman of the Board of Management of Deutsche Bahn, requesting concrete measures to be taken by 14 November against the numerous problems facing the German-owned group. First, the picture had reported on Sunday . What consequences threaten if Lutz does not meet the demand in time does not emerge from the report.

Scheuer demands investment and corporate restructuring

In the letter, Scheuer demands that "the previous medium- and long-term announcements be implemented much faster." In several areas, the railway must be far-reaching change. Regional traffic should not only solve current problems such as staff shortages, train cancellations and delays. It also needs a strategy that answers "how DB Regio can be permanently enabled to win more tenders." This applies in particular to the DB Regio Bus division, which is recording high losses.

In addition, Scheuer requires a schedule for the maintenance of the infrastructure. This progresses too slowly and must be accelerated. In freight traffic Scheuer sees a number of shortcomings such as "bad vehicle material" and a "non-functioning production structure", to which the railway must present a "clear and verifiable concept". For this, the corporate hierarchy must be reconsidered: "Inefficient management levels should be dismantled with the goal of a flat and clear hierarchy to get easier decision-making."

The Federal Ministry of Transport did not comment on the letter. Also by the railway it was said, one does not speak in principle to internal exchange. The railway has been under pressure for some time, mainly due to a lack of investment in the rail network. Again and again trains are delayed or fail altogether. Scheuer and Lutz had already exchanged views on the situation in several crisis meetings.

Praise and criticism for Scheuer's approach

The FDP member Christian Jung agreed to Scheuer in principle: "Even in the coalition groups at the federal level patience with the railway leadership is over," said Jung, who is a member of the Transport Committee of the Bundestag. "The confidence of individual board managers anyway lost by the unresolved affair of illegal consultancy contracts with the railway in recent years." In the railway there is an "operational and strategic leadership failure and a bad corporate culture."

However, Scheuer's letter in the ranks of the opposition also provokes criticism. Thus, the rail policy spokesman of the Greens parliamentary group Matthias Gastel accused the minister of wanting to distract from their own "missteps". "The Minister of Transport, who only reveals the bare necessities of the diesel scandal and the irregularities in the foreigner's toll, is now trying to mimic determination at Deutsche Bahn," he said. The CSU politician wants to further promote climate-damaging traffic with diesel and kerosene subsidies, and road construction continues unchecked. Not Rail Lutz, but scouring was the "problem bear" of German transport policy, said the Greens MP.

Scheuer is due to his behavior in connection with the failed car toll for foreigners in the criticism: Already in 2018 he had contracts with operating companies closed before there was legal certainty for the CSU project. Later, the European Court of Justice banned the introduction of the toll, the federal government had to terminate the contracts. Now the operators could reclaim millions. Scheuer apparently has documents that concern the operator contracts, hidden from the Bundestag and must submit to a joint inquiry of the FDP, Greens and left to a committee of inquiry.