BNetzA approves train-path prices for 2020
The competent ruling chamber approved the train-path prices for the schedule year 2019/2020 on January 13, 2019, including the proposed 1.8% increase of train-path prices in regional rail passenger transport. This follows from the statutory linking of the train-path price development to the growth rate of the regionalization funds. For long-distance rail passenger and freight transport, prices were increased by about 2.4% compared to the previous year. As in the decisions on the train-path pricing system (TPS) of 2018 and 2019, the train-path prices originally requested in most of the long-distance segments were raised in the course of approval by the BNetzA and lowered for standard rail freight transport trains; by about € 28 million respectively. DB Netz AG has appealed against this decision. The first decision is expected to be in the middle of 2020 at the earliest.
BNetzA sets maximum limits on total costs for the working schedule period of 2020/2021
In a decision on August 22, 2019, as part of regulating the incentivization of train-path prices, the BNetzA set the maximum limits for total costs of DB Netz AG and DB RegioNetz Infrastruktur GmbH, for the working schedule period of 2020/2021, at about € 5 billion. The decision contains an adjustment clause. The upper limit can be increased by maintenance expenses induced by the LuFV, if the LuFV III is recognized as a so-called qualified regulatory agreement by the Federal agencies. DB Netz AG and DB RegioNetz Infrastruktur GmbH have submitted their request for this in due time.
Incentive system approved by the BNetzA
The BNetzA approved the incentive system requested by DB Netz AG for rail passenger transport as part of the rail network terms of usage (Schienennetz-Benutzungsbedinungen; SNB) using the waiver of notice in May 2019, with effect from June 1, 2019. In comparison to the previous regulations, significantly higher payments would be levied for delays caused by construction work, among other issues. After the incentive system was rejected the previous year, an agreement was able to be reached at the end of 2018 as part of a market dialogue in the passenger transport sector on all key points of the incentive system.
In freight transport, there is agreement to introduce the incentive system as early as the schedule change 2020/2021. However, there is no final agreement on the specific design, despite intensive market participation, which means that the open points must be clarified in the context of the SNB approval procedure by the BNetzA. DB Netz AG submitted a corresponding request to the BNetzA at the beginning of October 2019. A decision by the BNetzA is not expected before the close of the first quarter of 2020.
Developments in noise protection
The noise-based train-path pricing system (lärmabhängiges Trassenpreissystem; LaTPS) currently provides for a surcharge of 5.5% on the regular train-path price for loud freight trains. The surcharge increased to 7% for schedule change 2019/2020. Freight trains consisting of at least 90% of cars with quiet brake shoes are exempt from the surcharge. In the year under review, we received and approved a total of 57,463 applications for 2018 in the LaTPS (2017: 36,646) to promote the noise remediation of existing freight cars. A total of about € 10 million (for 2017: about € 8 million) was paid out to the TOCs for the applications submitted. The LaTPS will be in place until the end of 2020. The program is income-neutral for its entire duration.
As of late 2020, the Rail Noise Protection Act will apply, meaning that the operation of freight trains and passenger trains, in which one or several noisy cars are in use, is generally prohibited on the German rail network. DB Netz AG is currently preparing to implement the requirements of the Rail Noise Protection Act. These specifications must be applied bindingly by the authorized access persons when applying for rail track capacity for the network schedule 2020/2021.
Capacity round table
The Capacity round table was launched at the beginning of July 2019 as an industry-wide body that will discuss the essential levers for capacity management and achieve consensus on concrete measures to improve capacity control and planning. The stated objective of the Capacity round table is to identify short- and medium-term measures with a specific contribution to the overall system, which are in common areas and therefore provide added value beyond the members’ own work. To this end, the current situation regarding capacity in the network and the challenges of reconciling conflicting targets between driving and building on the network are discussed with the industry on the basis of specific key figures. Three industry-wide working groups also analyze and create capacity-optimizing measures and implement them. These include, for example, investigating measures to increase the capacity of stations, opportunities for temporary use of selective door controls, the study of new approaches to planning and allocating capacities as part of the schedule process or even measures for improving the dispositive cooperation in bottlenecks.