Passenger transport

Anticipated market development (%)



German passenger transport (based on pkm)



As of February 2021. Forecast for 2021 rounded to half percentage points.

Following the Covid-19-related drop in performance in 2020, the German passenger transport market is expected to recover noticeably in 2021. Nevertheless, the performance volume will remain significantly below the pre-crisis level of 2019.

The development of demand for transport strongly depends on the infection situation, regulatory measures and the associated mobility behavior of the population. Commuter transport and business travel may be partially replaced by a permanent shift to home office and digital communica­­tion. Should the Covid-19 pandemic persist, individual forms of transportation with a low risk of infection – especially cars, bicycles or walking – will continue to be preferred over public means of transport.

  • In these circumstances, motorized individual transport in particular is likely to return to close to its pre-crisis level of performance volume. The increases in fuel prices due to CO pricing coming into force in 2021 remain of minor significance for the time being.
  • Domestic air transport is facing a protracted recovery in view of decreased demand resulting from infection-prevention measures and a significantly more scarce supply. In 2021, it will likely recover only a fraction of the losses suffered in 2020.
  • Public road passenger transport is expected to increase again, but will continue to suffer from substitution effects from cars and bicycles in local transport. Long-distance bus services are expected to develop comparatively weakly due to the reduced supply and strong competition from rail passenger transport.
  • For rail passenger transport, we expect a noticeable recov­ery in local and long-distance transport. Long-distance transport is likely to benefit from gains from air and bus long-distance transport. The main assumptions under­ly­ing this development are a decline in infections, loos­­­­­ened or lifted social distancing restrictions and a regaining of confidence in public transport.

In European passenger transport, too, development will be specific to the mode of transport and will vary from region to region. Financial weaknesses and strategic realignment of individual providers make it probable that the mobility market will undergo consolidation. However, the progressive climate policy of the European Union and its member states remains the long-term motor for the development of climate­friendly public mobility – and therefore rail passenger transport in particular.

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