Political environment

We regularly report on the development of competition on the rail in our brochure Compensation report.

Regulatory and transport policy topics

Climate action program 2030

On October 9, 2019, the German Federal Cabinet adopted the 2030 Climate Action Program. The measures enshrined in the program (the Climate package) seek to ensure that the national climate protection targets for 2030 (55% less greenhouse gas compared to the year 1990) are achieved. In addition to introducing CO₂ pricing an extensive package of measures, for example in the transport sector, is envisaged, some of which have already been implemented through legal amendments. Efforts to increase the attractiveness of local public transport and rail passenger transport, including through the nplanned increase in the municipal transport financing act (Gemeindeverkehrsginanzierungsgesetz; GVF) and regionalization funds, are of particular significance for rail transport. The program also includes strengthening rail freight transport. Measures to this end include, among others, enabling long freight trains, the digitalization of rail freight transport, and continuing the promotion of train-­­path prices and promoting cost reduction for facilities. Further points of considerable relevance include the announced capital increases, which are to bring further measures to the rail infrastructure for modernization and increased quality and capacity, as well as expansion of the rail network; the reduction in value-added tax for long-­­distance rail passenger transport which entered into force on January 1, 2020; and the envisaged planning acceleration.

National platform future of mobility

The national platform Future of Mobility (NPM), which was established by the Federal Government, began its work in late September 2018. The objective of the cross-­­modal transport platform is to develop forward-­­thinking concepts and recommendations for action in order to keep competitive companies and jobs in Germany, as well as viable, affordable, demand-­­oriented, climate-­­friendly and sustainable mobility. The work of the platform is divided into six working groups. Working Group 1, climate protection in transport, developed an interim report in 2019 in which it identified ways to achieve the 2030 climate targets in the transport sector. Initial reports on the results of the work were also produced for the other working groups. On December 18, 2019, the 2019 progress report was published, which formulates ten core theories on the future of mobility and represents the work of the NPM to date. The working groups will continue their ongoing work and cooperation. DB Group is represented in the steering committee and in the working groups Climate protection in transport and Digitalization for the mobility sector.

Rail future alliance

Since October 2018, the Rail Future Alliance, initiated by Fed­eral Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer, has been working under the management of the parliamentary Secretary of State Enak Ferlemann to tackle the Federal Government’s objectives and measures in the area of railway policy. The con­­tents of the Future Alliance were developed and discussed within six working groups: introduce a synchronized schedule for all of Germany (Deutschlandtakt), expand capacity, strengthen the competitiveness of rail, reduce noise emissions, and digitalization, automation and innovations; skilled employees need in rail. DB Group participates in all the working groups and in the steering committee. An interim report was submitted to the Rail Summit (Schienengipfel) on May 7, 2019, and on October 15, 2019 measures for an immediate action program were adopted by the steering committee. A final report (master plan for Rail 2020) is expected to be available in the summer.

Master plan for rail freight transport

The implementation of the master plan for rail freight transport will continue as per the procedure thus far in order to supplement the work of the Rail Future Alliance. The rail freight transport round table held another meeting with key representatives from the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (Bundesministerium für Verkehr und digitale Infrastruktur; BMVI) and from the sector on April 8, 2019 and on October 7, 2019. The immediate measure, train-­­path price support, was implemented from July 1, 2018 for a period of five years. In 2019, € 350 million was available for fund­ing. Immediate measures to be taken also include the Federal program Future of Rail Freight Transport, which seeks to strengthen innovation in the sector. In the Federal budget, € 30 million of spending is planned for 2020. The EU Commission has yet to notify the funding regulation, with its publication currently expected in Spring 2020. As a further measure to strengthen rail freight transport, the 2020 Federal budget is providing for facility price support of € 40 million. A funding regulation is currently being prepared for this purpose.

Amendment to the railway regulatory framework

In order to implement the regulatory section of the fourth EU railway package, the Federal Government initiated an amendment to the railway regulatory framework on March 27, 2019. As the Railway Regulation Act (Eisenbahnregulierungsgesetz; ERegG) was negotiated in parallel with the fourth railway package, the corresponding European requirements and assessments were largely taken into account when the ERegG entered into force in its original form. There was therefore relatively little need for adjustment in Germany as a result of the EU requirements. In particular, the unbundling requirements were made more stringent (regulations on the independence of the rail infrastructure operator and financial transparency/accounting within vertically integrated railway companies), and therefore related to the expanded competencies of the BNetzA. In addition to these changes relating to the ERegG, the requirements of the General Railway Act (Allgemeines Eisenbahngesetz; AEG) were adapted to a limited extent, including with regard to preparing contingency plans. The new regulations entered into force on July 16, 2019 and were implemented at DB Group. In the course of the legislative procedure, the Federal Government agreed with the Federal states that it would examine further matters as part of the comprehensive evaluation of the railway regulatory regime provided for in the coalition agreement, and that it would coordinate with the Federal states. In order to carry out this evaluation, the BMVI first requested an experience report on the application of the ERegG at the BNetzA. BMVI forwarded this report to the associations and Federal states on November 5, 2019 and the opportunity for providing a statement was granted. DB Group participated in the process. Based on the results of the report and the statements, the need for an amendment to the ERegG will be determined and a draft bill will be prepared on this basis.

Railway law consolidation of laws act

On June 17, 2019, the BMVI submitted a draft bill for a Railway Law Consolidation of Laws Act (Eisenbahnrechtsbereinigungsgesetz) and initiated a hearing of associations. The draft bill is central in the adaptation of references, specifying details of regulations, and editorial adjustments. The draft covers, among other aspects, regulations of the AEG, the ERegG and the Federal Railway Administration Act (Bundes­eisenbahnverwaltungsgesetz). In addition to this, the draft bill contains material change proposals with regard to the ex­­­emption of real estate for the purposes of railway operations, and relating to protective measures and cutting back vegetation on railway operating facilities based on regulations of the Federal Highway Act (Bundesfernstraßengesetz). DB Group participated in the hearing of associations with a statement.

Telecommunications signal supply throughout rail routes

The period for supplying the main rail route with a cell phone signal from the spectrum auction 2015 expired at the end of 2019. According to information from the telecommunications network operators, the main transport routes had not yet been fully supplied by late 2019. The BNetzA checks the overall completion and any consequences that arise as a result. Taking into account the customer desire for seamless connectivity and uninterrupted telephony during rail journeys, the implementation of supply requirements under the 2019 5G auction come to the fore. By late 2024, all rail routes should be provided with a cell phone signal. DB Group has initiated the project master plan connectivity rail in order to make this a reality.

Europe-wide redefinition of the railway telecommunications system

A central theme for railway telecommunications is the provision of a signal by cell phone network operators, which is crucial to connectivity, as is equipping the railway with sufficient frequency. This is because by late 2033, the current frequency assignments for railway telecommunications will expire across Europe. The European Commission is currently running working groups on a mandate from the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT) regarding the technical and regulatory parameters for the reassignment of railway telecommunications frequencies in Europe. Equipping the railway with sufficient frequency is essential for the planned digitalization of railway operations, enabling applications such as automatic train operation (ATO) to be implemented in the future. By the end of 2019, the railway companies had the opportunity to produce their own studies on the planned future frequency use by the member states represented in the CEPT, in order to justify their specific frequency needs and their applications.

Mobility package I on social legislation in European road freight transport

Mobility Package I, which was presented on May 31, 2017 contains, alongside further legislative proposals, an initiative for a comprehensive revision of the competitive and social policy standards of European road freight transport. To this end, the European Council and Parliament negotiated a compromise on December 11, 2019. As a result, truck drivers should in the future be given the right to return to their hometown at least every three to four weeks. Regular weekly rest periods (45 hours) must be spent outside the driver’s cab. In the case of cabotage, three transports within seven days should remain possible. In addition, a cooling-­­off period of four days must be upheld. This rule also applies to the inflow and onward carriage of combined transport.

Bilateral transport is excluded in relation to dispatching drivers and the associated guarantee of working conditions at the respective place of work for the period of employment (place of work principle). To improve monitoring, new trucks must be equipped with a second-generation digital tachograph by 2023, and light commercial vehicles (over 2.5 t) should also be equipped with one in the future. The new regulations on competition and on driving and rest periods should also apply to light commercial vehicles used in international transport.

The formal legislative procedure has not yet been concluded with the compromise. The plenary session of the European Parliament could give its approval in May 2020.

Proposals for a multi-year EU financial framework

On May 2, 2018, the Commission proposed a budget amounting to € 1,279 billion for the new EU budget (MFF) for the years 2021 to 2027. The funds of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) are to be increased to about € 42 billion for investments in trans-­­European transport, digital and energy networks, of which about € 31 billion are earmarked for investments in transport networks. In the current financial framework, the budget for transport networks is about € 24 billion. Top-­­ups come from a separate budget of € 6.5 billion for transport networks with a dual civil and military use. In November 2018, the European Parliament argued in favor of additional funding of € 7 billion for the transport network. Negotiations on the financial framework are underway at the Council of the European Union. It is expected that the Council will call for a reduction in the funding. A final decision may only come in the second half-­­year of 2020.

National Rail Noise Protection Act (Schienenlärmschutzgesetz)

In 2017, German legislature adopted the law banning the operation of loud freight cars (Rail Noise Protection Act). As of December 13, 2020, the law prohibits the use of all loud freight cars on the German rail network in the course of a schedule change in 2020/2021. For the implementation of the law, DB Netz AG has updated the rail network terms and conditions of use. DB Cargo always procures new freight cars with whisper brakes and upgrades the existing fleet accordingly. In addition, a large number of other freight cars from domestic and foreign train operating companies (TOCs) and rail car owners travel on the German network, and these are also bound by the statutory requirement.

EU restricts use of loud freight cars

In the year under review, the technical specification for inter­operability relating to the subsystem “rolling stock — noise” (TSI Noise) was adopted by the EU Commission. From the end of 2024 on, the TSI Noise will provide for a prohibition on operating loud freight cars on heavily frequented lines (known as quieter routes) throughout the EU. Quieter routes are all routes on which, on average, more than 12 freight cars operate overnight on a line section of more than 20 km. On the quieter routes, loud freight cars, that is freight cars that do not comply with the requirements of the TSI Noise for new vehicles, will be prohibited from operation throughout the day.

Given the ongoing conversion of its freight cars to equip them with quiet composite brake shoes, DB Cargo is ready for this change.

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