Impact of the Covid-19 pandemic

In 2021 passenger transport continued to be heavily impacted by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

  • At the beginning of the year, due to official measures, recommendations to minimize social contact, restrictions on trade and services, and a general reluctance regarding mobility, the number of passengers was below the respective months of the previous year, which had not yet been influenced by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • As the vaccine campaign continued, demand recovered markedly from March 2021.
  • Demand has not yet returned to pre-Covid-19 levels.

Demand for rail freight transport increased sharply, driven by global economic development, almost returning to its pre-Covid-19 level.

DB Group will continue to be affected by the Covid-19 pandemic in 2022. However, we are sticking to the growth tar­­gets for rail and our own growth targets within our Strong Rail strat­­egy. For this reason, we consistently continued our expansion of capacity, primarily in infrastructure, in 2021.

Covid-19-related compensation measures

Deutsche Bahn AG (DB AG) and the Federal Republic of Germany (Federal Government) have agreed to jointly bear the effects of the Covid-19 crisis on Deutsche Bahn Group (DB Group). We plan to compensate for half of the impact on the Integrated Rail System by implementing countermeasures.

In 2021, the Federal Government implemented various measures to partially compensate for Covid-19-related losses:

  • Extensive support for train-path prices (retroactively from March 2020) in long-distance and freight transport (DB share: about€ 2.1 billion).
  • Compensation for the canceled dividend payment by DB AG for the 2020 financial year (€ 650 million). As the dividend payment is planned in accordance with the Performance and Financing Agreement (Leistungs- und Finan­zierungs­vereinbarung; LuFV) to finance replacement capital expen­ditures in infrastructure, it was replaced in full by Federal funds (additional investment grants) in 2021.
  • Compensation for losses incurred by DB Long-Distance over the course of the first shutdown in spring 2020 (€ 550 million).

Further support measures are still in consultation with the European Commission and the Federal Government.

In 2021, DB Regional also received funds from the industry solution for regional transport in Germany (about € 0.5 billion).

DB Arriva also received Covid-19 support in various countries.

Economic Stimulus Package of the Federal Government

In June 2020, the Federal Government agreed on comprehensive measures in relation to the topic of “Tackling the Covid-19 Impact, Securing Prosperity, Strengthening Readiness for the Future.” These included a number of general relief measures for the German economy, while simultaneously providing industry-specific stimuli in 2020 and 2021. Progress was made in this area in 2021, particularly with regard to the compensation measures for DB Group related to Covid-19:

  • In the 2020 supplementary budget, the strengthening of DB AG’s equity by € 5 billion for the partial compensation of losses was intended.
  • This sum was carried over to 2021 in the 2021 Federal budget because the coordination with the European Commission (EU Commission) with respect to state aid law had not yet been completed in 2020.
  • Based on the progress made in the negotiations with the EU Commission, the 2021 supplementary budget adopted by the German Parliament in April 2021 reduced the funds that had been intended for the equity increase by just under € 3.1 billion and reallocated that amount:
    • The Federal funds intended for the maintenance of tracks of the Federal railways were increased by € 650 million to compensate for the omission of DB AG’s dividend payment for the 2020 financial year.
    • The expenditure to subsidize train-path prices in rail freight transport was increased by€ 600 million, and a further€ 27 million was allocated to a commitment appropriation for 2022 to pay for services provid­ed in December 2021. To subsidize train-path prices in long-distance rail passenger transport, about€ 1.8 billion was also included in the Federal budget, plus a commitment appropriation for 2022 totaling€ 279 million to pay for services provided in December 2021 and to continue subsidizing train-path prices in long-distance rail passenger transport until May 2022.

The coordination regarding state aid law with the EU Commission on subsidizing train-path prices in long-distance rail passenger transport and rail freight transport was adopted in 2021 with retroactive effect from March 2020, as was the compensation for losses in long-distance rail passenger transport for the first shutdown in spring 2020. The corresponding measures were implemented in 2021. The coordination regard­ing state aid law on compensation for losses in rail freight transport was also completed. The coordination with the EU Commission regarding additional compensation for losses is still ongoing.

The Act on Accompanying Measures for the Implementa­tion of the Economic Stimulus and Crisis Management Pack­­age (Gesetz über begleitende Maßnahmen zur Umset­zung des Konjunktur- und Krisenbewältigungspakets) provided for an additional one-time increase of€ 2.5 billion in regio­n­al­ization funds in 2020, with which the Federal Government contributed half of the industry solution for local public transport. For 2021, the Federal Government has also promised to contribute€ 1 billion (half of the total amount) to the continuation of the industry solution, provided that the Federal states contribute the same amount as in 2020. The industry solution for local public transport is also set to continue in 2022.

Further information on the economic stimulus package of the Federal Government (2020 Integrated Report).

What could be interesting for you