The customer is at the center of our actions

High product quality is one of the most important prerequisites for implementing our Strong Rail strategy. The greatest levers for improving product quality include high levels of punctuality, the use of modern vehicles, reliable and comprehensive customer and transport informa­­tion, the quality and reliability of the services offered and appropriate transport and transport times. That is why we contin­ually invest in our fleet and infrastructure, and optimize cooperation with our suppliers and sector partners. We are also intensively exploiting the opportunities offered by digitalization.

Improving punctuality is particularly important as it is the key factor influencing customer satisfaction and therefore makes a positive contribution to meeting our customer needs, even in the context of increasing mobility needs.

Only if trains and buses operate sustainably with a high degree of punctuality will passengers use rail transport for their private and work-related journeys in the long term, thereby guaranteeing the success of society’s shift in the mode of transport. Punctuality is also the key factor in the stability of production systems. In the long-distance and freight transport sectors especially, delays lead to impaired vehicle and personnel cycles, which in turn have a negative effect on maintenance delivery. This ties up the capacity and resources that are urgently needed for the desired growth in traffic in both passenger and freight transport. From an economic point of view, a high level of punctuality also minimizes the risk of penalty payments in contracted local passenger transport as well as compensation via passenger rights in long-distance passenger transport.

The importance of punctuality is also demonstrated by the fact that it is a determining factor in the amount of the variable remuneration received by executives.

Improving punctuality requires continuous internal management, on the basis of lost units (number of delays) and additional key figures, which take into account network capacity and availability, among other things. To measure punctuality, we compare the target arrival time to the actual arrival time for every train/bus run. A stop is considered on time if the scheduled arrival time is exceeded by less than six minutes in passenger transport or less than 16 minutes in freight transport. We use a punctuality rate to summarize the arrival of trains/buses on schedule or up to a defined maximum delay. Punctuality data is recorded daily and made available to managers and employees together with the lost units and other management key performance indicators. The performance is compared with the targets derived from the strategy in order to identify both negative deviations and positive developments in a timely manner.

Development in the year under review

Punctuality / %




DB Group (rail) in Germany




DB rail passenger transport in Germany




DB Long-Distance




DB Regional




DB Cargo (Germany)




DB Arriva (rail: United Kingdom, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, Poland and the Czech Republic) 1)




DB Regional (bus) 




DB Cargo




To measure punctuality, we compare the target arrival time to the actual arrival time for every train/bus run. We summarize the arrival of trains/buses on schedule or up to a defined maximum
delay using a punctuality rate.
1) From July 2022, excluding activities sold by DB Arriva in Sweden.

In Germany, punctuality in rail transport decreased significantly. The reasons for this development were:

  • High level of primary disruptions: Particularly in the infrastructure (for example points, tracks), there was an increase in primary disruptions due to the aging and susceptibility of the facilities to faults. One of our focal points was nationwide testing and the replacement of damaged concrete ties as a result of the train accident in Garmisch-Parten-kirchen. Due to the high volume of work, slow-running points had to be set up for long periods, which had a negative impact on the operating quality.
  • High level of construction activity: In 2022, there were often lots of construction activities, particularly in the highly utilized bottleneck network, while at the same time there was strained infrastructure capacity and more traffic. Extensive construction work on the Riedbahn between Mannheim and Frankfurt am Main, the most heavily burdened line in the ICE network, but also in the Hamburg hub, has led to significant additional delays.
  • Highly utilized rail tracks: Around 25% of all trains run through highly overloaded rail routes, which are already very busy due to the high volume of traffic, without additional construction.
  • Special external events: Weather-related events, in particular, the rapid sequence of hurricane force storms in February 2022, which in some areas caused severe damage throughout Germany, especially in northern Germany and North Rhine-Westphalia, and a number of heat-wave days between June and August. In addition, dangerous events (including suicide, a freight train collision in Leiferde) and external effects (including theft of infrastruc­ture facilities, damage caused by vandalism and a targeted attack on the GSM-R infrastructure in the north) led to negative punctuality effects.
  • 9-Euro-Ticket: Demand in regional rail passenger transport increased significantly from June to August 2022 due to the temporary introduction of the 9-Euro-Ticket. This led primarily to more excessive stopping times and train delays on tourist routes and at weekends.
  • Tense personnel situation: Among other things, there were high levels of sick leave for key operational functions (for example drivers, traffic controllers, maintenance personnel) due to Covid-19 or flu, partly limited to certain areas.
  • Impaired operating processes: The reduced punctuality level and low system resilience mean that personnel and vehicle rotation may no longer function, which means that maintenance allocations and train provision cannot take place as scheduled.

Significant measures for improvement

In 2022, DB Group again implemented a number of measures to improve and/or stabilize the operating quality. However, negative structural effects (high construction activity on highly utilized rail lines with old and fault-prone infrastructure) overpowered their effects. For this reason, measures are being developed and implemented that strongly intervene in the current structures and contribute to a sustainable increase in quality through paradigm shifts.

Outlook - Strong Rail top targets

Anticipated development



Punctuality DB Long-Distance (%)



Punctuality DB Regional (rail) (%)



Punctuality DB Cargo (Germany) (%)



Punctuality is expected to improve in 2023. In order to achieve these goals, quality-related measures will be further promoted and intensified, particularly with regard to structurally sustainable improvements, with a focus on infrastructure. However, achieving punctuality targets is a major challenge due to the further increase in volume of transport and capacity and aging problems in infrastructure.

Sustainability indices

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