2018 Integrated Report – On track towards a better Railway


Business model with a clear customer focus

DB Group offers attractive, customer-focused and environmentally friendly mobility, transport and logistics solutions and networks from a single source. We selectively use the possibilities of digitale technologies to improve our operational and administrative processes, to continually further develop offers for the customer, to integrate new services, and to simplify the customer interface. Our customers are individuals, business customers and contracting organizations in local and regional transport.

The integrated rail system is at the heart of our business activities. In addition, we are gradually expanding our business portfolio in order to meet our customers’ needs more effectively and respond to new market demands.

  • Our passenger transport business activities are broadly diversified. They comprise not only bus and rail transport, but also intelligent linkage with other modes of transport such as the car and bicycle. We offer long dis­­­tance rail passenger transport within Germany and into neighboring countries. Furthermore, we have regional and local transport operations throughout Europe that enable us to benefit from increasing market potential in the bus and rail transport markets.
  • Our business activities in the freight transport and logistics market were moved to an international platform very early on. DB Cargo and DB Schenker operate first and foremost in the business-to-business segment. We offer our customers industry-specific solutions in rail freight, in land transport, in global air and ocean freight as well as in global contract logistics. Covering all relevant modes of transport allows us to offer complex combined logistics services and to make use of synergies in our networks for the benefit of our customers.

As an operator of networks and provider of services in passenger transport, freight transport and logistics, as well as track infrastructure, our economic success is influenced by the general economic environment and the specific development of the various relevant markets:

  • Demand for passenger transport is driven first and foremost by the growth of urban areas, the size of the population, the number of people in employment, and real disposable incomes. The competitive situation relative to the car is markedly influenced by the trend in fuel prices.
  • Our freight transport and logistics operations depend largely on economic developments. Due to our global networks we monitor the development not only of global gross domestic product (GDP) and world trade, but also of economic growth in the regions, countries, and trade relations in which we have a high market share or in which high growth rates in the exchange of goods can be expected. Customary early-warning indicators of the business climate and of the expectations of purchasing managers are an integral part of our monitoring system.

The market environment of DB Cargo is particularly influenced by the manufacturing industry’s production output and the development of the iron, coal and steel, and chemical industries. Furthermore, the cross-border movement of goods within Europe is growing in importance.

  • The services of the Infrastructure business units cover important elements of their customers’ value-added chains. In this respect, the development of demand is a factor that is largely determined by upstream passenger and freight transport markets. The area of marketing in DB Netze Stations is also important. Consumer trends in the general public are an important factor here, much as they are in general retail in Germany.

The development of the economic and early-warning indicators, as presented above, influences how we manage our market activities and resources. Opportunities and risks can therefore be recognized early on, and as a result short-term management activities and long-term positioning can be focused accordingly. At the same time we work systematically on optimizing our operating value drivers.

Operating regional and global transport networks often necessitates a high level of capital employed, long investment cycles and distinctive fixed-cost structures. In this respect, achieving optimal capacity utilization of our networks and systematically developing, integrating, and cost-effectively operating these networks with the efficient use of resources are important to DB Group’s economic development. Ensuring and improving service quality for our customers is at the center of our activities. By expand­­ing what we offer our customers, particularly digital services and customer loyalty programs, we intend to gain additional customers in order to realize increasing volumes and economies of scale.

We generally use operating performance data to measure capacity utilization in our networks and our relative shares of the transport markets. In order to determine a relative return, we calculate ratios comparing this performance data with the revenues generated (specific revenues).

With its comprehensive portfolio, DB Group has an effective business model. This allows DB Group to offer services from one single source and means that it operates successfully in all segments of the transport market with its national and international services.

In most of our business units, incoming orders are not a relevant performance indicator, and the majority of the Group’s revenues are generated independently of long-term contracts.

DB Regional and DB Arriva are an exception to this rule, together accounting for about one-third of Group revenues. In these business units, the order book in the form of long-term transport contracts entered into with the public transport authorities of Germany’s Federal states and franchisers in other European countries constitutes a key performance metric for business development. There are also long-term contractual relationships with customers in DB Schenker’s contract logistics line of business, which gen­­­erates about 6% of Group revenues.

There are five key success factors in the development of DB Group, which are a central component of DB Group’s business model:

  • Entrepreneurial approach to business: In the course of the German rail reform DB Group has established itself as a commercial enterprise. Particularly worth mentioning in this context are the establishment of a modern and efficient organization and a value-based corporate management approach.
  • Integrated Group: As a system integrator in Germany, DB Group optimizes the integrated rail system. In doing so, it serves as an important driving force for technolog­ical innovation. The integrated Group structure enables us to achieve positive synergies and align our infra­structure to support efficiency, market orientation and profitability.
  • Cross-modal transport solutions: We offer our customers door-to-door mobility and logistics solutions from a single source. We use digital technologies to intelligently link various modes of transport in an economical and environmentally friendly way. In addition, we offer complementary products and services in the freight transport and logistics market.
  • International direction: Due to our focus on Germany and Europe in passenger transport as well as our European and global orientation in the areas of freight transport and logistics activities, DB Group has an excellent position in the relevant markets. As a result, we are respond­­ing to the increasing demand for cross-border solutions. At the same time, we are best positioned to take advantage of growth opportunities.
  • Digitalization: Digitalization and new technologies are changing the face of our core business. We are harness­­ing digitalization technologies and methods to offer attractive products to our customers. This means, on the one hand, that we are incorporating new transport offers into our product portfolio, such as on-demand mobility, and establishing new platforms for our customer interfaces. On the other hand, we support our internal processes using such technologies as artificial intelligence. In order to tap into growth potential and provide a modern offer for our customers, we are establishing an innovation ecosystem, consisting of in-­house developments, affiliated companies and partnerships.