Deutsche Bahn

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Deutsche Bahn AG
TypeState-owned enterprise (Aktiengesellschaft)
IndustryRail transport, Logistics
Founded1 January 1994; 29 years ago (1994-01-01)
HeadquartersBahntower, ,
Area served
Key people
Richard Lutz (businessman) [de], CEO
ProductsRail transport, cargo transport, services
RevenueIncrease 44.43 billion (2019)[1]
Increase €5.055 billion (2019)[1]
Decrease €681 million (2019)[1]
OwnerFederal Republic of Germany (100%)
Number of employees
322,768 (2020) Edit this at Wikidata
Headquarters of Deutsche Bahn in the Bahntower at Potsdamer Platz, Berlin

The Deutsche Bahn AG (IPA: [ˈdɔʏtʃə ˈbaːn]; abbreviated as DB or DB AG) is the national railway company of Germany. Headquartered in the Bahntower in Berlin, it is a joint-stock company (AG). The Federal Republic of Germany is its single shareholder.[2][3]

Deutsche Bahn describes itself as the second-largest transport company in the world, after the German postal and logistics company Deutsche Post / DHL, and is the largest railway operator and infrastructure owner in Europe. Deutsche Bahn was the largest railway company in the world by revenue in 2015;[4] in 2019, DB Passenger transport companies carried around 4.8 billion passengers, and DB logistics companies transported approximately 232 million tons of goods in rail freight transport.[5]

The group is divided into several companies, including DB Fernverkehr (long-distance passenger), DB Regio (local passenger services) and DB Cargo (rail freight). The Group subsidiary DB Netz also operates large parts of the German railway infrastructure, making it the largest rail network in Europe.

The company generates about half of its total revenue from operating rail transport, with other half of the business comprising the further transport and logistics businesses, as well as various service providers. The company generates part of its revenue through public transport contracts and support services for infrastructure maintenance and expansion.

Company profile[edit]

The Deutsche Bahn Group is divided into various organizational units that perform their tasks with subsidiaries.


DB Personenverkehr is the group that manages passenger travel within Germany. Originally called Reise & Touristik (English: Travel and Tourism), this group is responsible for the managing, servicing and running of German passenger services. This group is divided into three business areas: DB Fernverkehr, DB Regio and Arriva.


Deutsche Bahn purchased Arriva in August 2010 off the London Stock Exchange.[6][7] To satisfy the European Commission, Arriva's German operations were rebranded Netinera and sold.[8] As at July 2022, Arriva operated 15,700 buses and 800 railway vehicles in 14 European countries.[9] In 2019 Deutsche Bahn unsuccessfully tried to sell the business.[10]

DB Fernverkehr[edit]

A Siemens Velaro ICE 3 long-distance high speed train of DB Fernverkehr

DB Fernverkehr AG is a semi-independent division of Deutsche Bahn that operates long-distance passenger trains in Germany. It was founded in 1999 in the second stage of the privatisation of German Federal Railways under the name of DB Reise & Touristik and renamed in 2003.

An IC2 Bombardier Twindexx /Doppelstock long distance Intercity Train also from DB Fernverkehr at Köln Hbf.

DB Fernverkehr operates all Intercity Express and Intercity trains in Germany as well as in some neighboring countries and several EuroCity and EuroCityExpress trains throughout Europe. Unlike its sister companies DB Regio and DB Cargo, DB Fernverkehr still holds a de facto monopoly in its segment of the market as it operates hundreds of trains per day, while all competitors' long-distance services combined amount to no more than 10–15 trains per day.

Additionally DB Fernverkehr operates a few long-distance coach services throughout Germany, called IC Bus.

DB Regio[edit]

A Bombardier Talent 2 regional train of DB Regio in Bavaria

DB Regio AG is the subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn that operates passenger trains on short and medium distances in Germany. Unlike its long-distance counterpart, DB Fernverkehr, it does not operate trains on its own account. Traffic is ordered and paid for by the Bundesländer (states) or their respective SPNV-Aufgabenträger (Regional train operation supervisors).

Some states have awarded long-term contracts to DB Regio (usually 10 to 15 years), in others, DB Regio's operations are decreasing, in North Rhine-Westphalia, their market share is expected to be lower than 50%. DB Regio rail services are divided into several regional companies:

The bus services consist of 25 bus companies, which have subsidiary companies themselves.


DB Netze[edit]

The infrastructure division is divided into the DB Netz (rail infrastructure), DB Station&Service (stations and services) and DB Energie (Energy) business units.

DB Engineering & Consulting[edit]

DB Engineering & Consulting, which is responsible for construction supervision, construction planning and maintenance, is also assigned to this department without being part of a business area.

Via its subsidiary DB Engineering&Consulting, DB signed a memorandum of understanding with Iranian rail operator Bonyad Eastern Railways (BonRail) in May 2017 and shortly after a consulting contract with Islamic Republic of Iran Railways; both projects were abandoned after the United States imposed new sanctions against Iran and said firms doing business with Iran would be barred from doing business with the United States.[11]

The California High-Speed Rail Authority's (CHSRA) board approved on 15 November 2017 an early train operator contract with DB Engineering & Consulting USA.[12] The firm is the U.S. arm of Deutsche Bahn AG. As early train operator, DB Engineering & Consulting will assist CHSRA with planning, designing and implementing the state's high-speed rail program.

In Germany, DB E&C acts as a planning office and in construction supervision for Deutsche Bahn construction sites.


Freight train from DB Cargo in Germany

The Transport and Logistics division acted in the market with the business units DB Schenker Logistics and DB Schenker Rail, which were combined under the umbrella of DB Schenker, and the Intermodal division, which operates in combined transport. In 2016, rail freight transport was separated from logistics and DB Schenker Rail was renamed DB Cargo.

In cooperation with the logistics provider time:matters, DB offers the transport of shipments weighing up to 20 kg on its EC/IC/ICE trains.[13]

Foreign firms[edit]

DB also has interests abroad, owning the United Kingdom's largest rail freight operator, DB Cargo UK, which also operates the British Royal Train[14] and also has interests in Eastern Europe. It is possible to obtain train times for any journey in Europe from Deutsche Bahn's website.[15]

Trans-Eurasia Logistics is a joint venture with Russian Railways (RŽD) that operates container freight trains between Germany and China via Russia.

Key persons[edit]

Richard Lutz, CEO of the DB Group

Management board[edit]

  • Richard Lutz (CEO Chairman of the Management Board) since 2017
  • Levin Holle (Member of the Management Board for Finance and Logistics, CFO)
  • Daniela Gerd tom Markotten (Member of the Management Board for Digitalization and Technology)
  • Berthold Huber (Member of the Management Board for Infrastructure)
  • Sigrid Nikutta (Member of the Management Board for Freight Transport)
  • Martin Seiler (Member of the Management Board for Human Resources and Legal Affairs)
  • Evelyn Palla (Member of the Management Board for Regional Transport)
  • Michael Peterson (Member of the Management Board for Long Distance Passenger Transport)

Supervisory board[edit]

  • Michael Odenwald (Chairman of the Supervisory Board)


Background: the Deutsche Reichsbahn[edit]

The railway network in Germany dates back to 1835 when the first tracks were laid on a 6 km (3.7 mi) route between Nuremberg and Fürth. The Deutsche Reichsbahn operated from 1920[16] through the Weimar and Nazi eras until 1949.[17] when it was split between East and West Germany into two successor entities, Deutsche Reichsbahn and Deutsche Bundesbahn, respectively.[18] They remained separate throughout the Cold War when there were two separate German states. The 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall, and German reunification in 1990, paved the way for the companies to reunite. On 1 January 1994 Deutsche Reichsbahn and Deutsche Bundesbahn were merged to form one company, and so, they became Deutsche Bahn, the successor organisation to the Reichsbahn.[19][20][21][22] At the same time, Deutsche Bahn adopted its current logo and DB abbreviation. Kurt Weidemann modernised the logo and typographer Erik Spiekermann designed a new corporate font known as DB Type. When Deutsche Bahn was formed in January 1994, it became a joint stock-company, and were designed to operate the railways of both the former East and West Germany after unification in October 1990 as a single, uniform, and private company.[23] There are three main periods of development in this unified German railway: its formation, its early years (1994–1999), and the period from 1999 to the present.

Originally, DBAG had its headquarters in Frankfurt am Main but moved to Potsdamer Platz in central Berlin in 1996, where it occupies a 26-storey office tower designed by Helmut Jahn at the eastern end of the Sony Center and named Bahntower. As the lease was to expire in 2010, DB had announced plans to relocate to Berlin Hauptbahnhof, and in 2007 a proposal for a new headquarters by 3XN Architects won an architectural competition which also included Foster + Partners, Dominique Perrault and Auer + Weber.[24] However, these plans were put on hold due to the financial crisis of 2008, and the Bahntower lease was extended.[25] Construction of the new headquarters building was started in 2017 under the title "Cube Berlin" according to the designs by 3XN. Finished in February 2020, the Cube will house the legal offices of Deutsche Bahn, but not become the main headquarters.[26]

1999 to present[edit]

The second step of the Bahnreform (railway reform) was carried out in 1999. All rolling stock, track, personnel, and real assets were divided between the subsidiaries of DBAG: DB Reise & Touristik AG (long-distance passenger service, later renamed DB Station & Service AG (operating the stations). This new organisational scheme was introduced not least to implement European Community directive 91/440/EEC that demands open access operations on railway lines by companies other than those that own the rail infrastructure.

In December 2007, DB reorganised again, bringing all passenger services into its DB Bahn arm, logistics under DB Schenker and infrastructure and operations under DB Netze.

The DB is owned by the Federal Republic. By the Constitution, the Federal Republic is required to retain (directly or indirectly) a majority of the infrastructure (the present DB Netze) stocks.

In 2008, it was agreed to "float" a portion of the business, meaning an end to the 100% share the German Federal Republic had in it, with a plan that 25% of the overall share would be sold to the private sector.[27] However the onset of the financial crisis of 2007–08 saw this cancelled.[28]

In 2014, the Jewish community of Thessaloniki demanded that the Deutsche Bahn, which is the successor of the Deutsche Reichsbahn, should reimburse the heirs of Greek Holocaust victims of Thessaloniki for train fares that they were forced to pay for their deportation from Thessaloniki to Auschwitz and Treblinka between March and August 1943.[29][30]

In June 2018 controversy grew in the United Kingdom over widespread cancellations of railway services and numerous delayed services operated by Deutsche Bahn in Britain, under its Northern brand. This resulted in Britain's Minister of Transport, Chris Grayling, setting up an enquiry into whether the Deutsche Bahn subsidiary had breached its contractual agreement to provide railway services in the north of England. He warned that if the company was found to be in breach of its contractual agreements it could be banned from running railway services in the United Kingdom.[31]


Structure and subsidiaries[edit]

Train categories[edit]

Trains in Germany are classified by their stopping pattern:[32]

  • Fernverkehr (long-distance trains), also Fernzug
    • ICE (Intercity-Express) for high-speed long-distance train services between major cities and regions. Certain routes also cross European borders into the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Switzerland and Austria.
    • EC (EuroCity) for intercity trains that cross borders, and connect Germany with other countries. Can also be operated by foreign State Railways.
    • IC (InterCity) for long-distance semi-high-speed services that connect regions and cities. IC services are slightly lower in class than ICE services, with trains reaching lower speeds (average around 160 – 220 km/h), with more frequent stops. On some IC routes the trains use legacy railway lines instead of the high speed lines the ICE takes. International IC services are usually operated as EuroCity.
  • Just as ICE, EC and (few) IC cross European borders, train categories of other operators cross into Germany and are operated in cooperation with Deutsche Bahn:
    • ECE (EuroCity Express) for international high-speed rail services. Currently only one route from Frankfurt to Milan.
    • TGV from France to Frankfurt and Munich via Stuttgart.
    • RJ (Railjet) from Austria to Munich and Frankfurt as well as to Berlin.
  • Nahverkehr (local trains)
    • IRE (Interregio-Express) are longer distance RE trains that connect regions and cities. On most routes they serve as slower IC trains. IRE trains only exist in Baden-Württemberg and on the Hamburg–Berlin route.
    • RE (Regional-Express) serve regions and connects cities, and do not stop at every station on the route.
    • RB (Regionalbahn) stop at all stations on the route (except where S-Bahn is available) and are often the most basic train service avaiable.
    • S (S-Bahn) is a type of rapid transit for larger cities and stop at all stations. S-Bahn operate high-frequency services and are usually characterised by crossing through the city centre with dense station spacing.[33]

Train categories no longer used include:

  • MET (Metropolitan) was a luxury train service between Hamburg and Cologne. The two special MET train sets are now used for IC and ICE services, and does still have a comfort level above the regular IC and ICE coaches.
  • IR (InterRegio), set between RE and IC was meant to connect cities and regions at a lower price, but also be used for local traffic. Replaced partly by IC, RE and IRE.
  • SE (Stadt-Express) operated as a mixture of RE and RB: trains skipped many stations in urban areas but made all stops in the countryside. Rebranded as RE and RB. In some regions, such as Rhine-Main (Frankfurt, Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund), the local transit authority advertised trains as SE. Internally, DB classified them as either RE or RB, but even DB trains display "SE" on their destination boards. This ceased in December 2016.

In the early days of DBAG, the most basic train categories, which were in use since the early days of rail travel in Germany, were also used:

  • D (D-Zug or Schnellzug, abbreviated from Durchgangszug) was the express train category and used to be the highest train category. It was replaced by IC and the even faster ICE. The trains of the SyltShuttle plus car shuttle service connecting the island of Sylt with the mainland are still officially referred to as D trains
  • E (Eilzug) was the semi-fast service offering faster journeys than normal passenger trains but not at such long distances and speed as D trains, though there were some quite long running E trains. No direct successor, would be located between RE and IC
  • N (Nahverkehrszug), the most basic form of train service stopping at all stations. When all local train services were vertaktet, i.e. operating at a fixed interval (mostly one train per hour), they were rebranded as RB

There are several other operators in Germany which sometimes offer other categories, also, a local transport authority or tariff associations might brand the trains in a different way than DB does. For example, in the Nuremberg region, RE and RB trains are not differentiated, but called R instead. In some regions, such as Verkehrsverbund Berlin-Brandenburg, private operators do use the RE and RB labels, in others, such as Saxony, they do not. In online and print information systems of DB, private trains officially labelled RB and RE by their operators, might get a different label, for example "ABR" for trains operated by Abellio, though on platforms, trains and maps or timetables issued by the local transport authority overseeing regional train services, these abbreviations usually do not appear.

Codeshare agreements[edit]

In conjunction with Emirates, China Airlines, TAM Airlines, Turkish Airlines, Biman Bangladesh Airlines, and Lufthansa, Deutsche Bahn operates the AIRail Service between Frankfurt Airport and Köln Hauptbahnhof/Bonn Hauptbahnhof, Düsseldorf, Freiburg, Hamburg, Hanover, Mannheim, Munich, Nuremberg, and Stuttgart. Deutsche Bahn has the IATA designator 2A.[34]


DB offers two different pricing models for single or return tickets for routes that include long-distance trains:

  • The Flexpreis (originally Normalpreis): gives full flexibility, i.e., all trains on the given date can be used on the chosen route. This price is independent of the time of purchase for a given route and tickets are reimbursable prior to the day of departure.
  • The Sparpreis and Super-Sparpreis are generally cheaper tickets that must be purchased in advance and are only valid for a specific connection. Supersparpreis prices for long-distance journeys start at €17.90 and Sparpreis at €21.90, but may climb close to the Flexpreis prices closer to departure and at busier dates and routes. Stopovers during travel are possible within a day and if the travel ends until 10:00 a.m. the next day, but then the long-distance trains to be used after the stopover must also be fixed in advance. Planned stopovers may sometimes help to circumvent times of day with higher occupancy and higher prices. Sparpreis tickets are partially reimbursible, but only against vouchers for the next travel.

Ticket prices generally rise degressively over distance, particularly for Sparpreise and Supersparpreise. Therefore, putting connecting local trains or excursions planned for the next morning on the same ticket is usually of advantage. Seat reservations are included only for first class tickets and seating capacity is not always assured, even for tickets valid on one particular connection only.

Local trains (S, RB, RE, IRE) also accept tickets issued by local transport associations, which can also be used on buses, trams, and U-Bahn trains.

DB offers concessionary fares with the BahnCard discount cards, which are available as BahnCard 25 (25% discount on Flexpreis and Sparpreis), BahnCard 50 (50% discount on Flexpreis and 25% discount on Sparpreis), and BahnCard 100 (unlimited travel on all Deutsche Bahn trains, a few private train companies and also in many local transport associations).

Other special tickets, such as the Länder-Tickets, which give unlimited journeys on local trains and in many transport associations within a state, and Interrail are also available. These Länder-Tickets offer group tickets, where up to five people can travel on a single ticket.[35]

Regular travellers usually use weekly, monthly or annual passes for their connection or region; day or sometimes weekend passes exist in local transport primarily.

The price system applies to some international destinations from Germany similarly, when bought at Deutsche Bahn, but it is often advisable to compare prices of the respective train operators involved.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Deutsche Bahn AG. "Annual Report 2019". Retrieved 27 December 2021.
  2. ^ "Members to the Supervisory Board of Deutsche Bahn AG". Archived from the original on 25 October 2012.
  3. ^ "Deutsche Bahn AG at a glance". Deutsche Bahn. Archived from the original on 26 April 2009.
  4. ^ "Deutsche Bahn is the world's biggest railway company by revenue in 2015. Image courtesy of Mario Duhanic. - Image - Railway Technology". Archived from the original on 27 September 2017. Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  5. ^ Deutsche Bahn Facts & Figures 2019. Deutsche Bahn. 2019. p. 9.
  6. ^ EC approves DB's takeover of Arriva Railway Gazette International 11 August 2010
  7. ^ Scheme of arrangement becomes effective Arriva 27 August 2010
  8. ^ New Name for Arriva Deutschland Today's Railways Europe issue 185 May 2011 page 8
  9. ^ Countries Arriva
  10. ^ Canary Wharf investors bid for Arriva Coach & Bus Week issue 1399 25 June 2019 page 7
  11. ^ Gernot Heller and Douglas Busvine (16 August 2018), German rail operator, Deutsche Telekom end Iran projects Reuters.
  12. ^ "Rail News - California high-speed rail agency selects German firm as early train operator. For Railroad Career Professionals". Retrieved 8 March 2022.
  13. ^ "Deutsche Bahn: ic:kurier - Zustellung am gleichen Tag". Retrieved 1 February 2022.
  14. ^ Macalister, Terry (28 June 2007). "Deutsche Bahn to run Queen's train". The Guardian.
  15. ^ Tickets - Timetable Archived 7 April 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ "Verordnung zur Schaffung eines Unternehmens Deutsche Reichsbahn". 16 February 2012. Archived from the original on 16 February 2012. Retrieved 7 May 2021.
  17. ^ Mierzejewski, Alfred C. (30 March 2014). The Most Valuable Asset of the Reich: A History of the German National Railway, Volume 1, 1920-1932. UNC Press Books. ISBN 978-1-4696-2020-6.
  18. ^ "Vielfältige Informationen zu Eisenbahn, Verkehrsgeschichte und Technikgeschichte aus dem Zeitraum 1919 bis 1945. Epoche II". 8 April 2006. Archived from the original on 8 April 2006. Retrieved 7 May 2021.
  19. ^ "Neckties from the GDR's Deutsche Reichsbahn and the Deutsche Bahn AG, 1993/1994". Retrieved 7 May 2021.
  20. ^ "Im Dienst von Demokratie und Diktatur | DB Museum". Archived from the original on 10 April 2021. Retrieved 7 May 2021.
  21. ^ Paterson, Tony (2 April 2012). "German railway fears flood of lawsuits over Holocaust trains". The Independent. Archived from the original on 7 May 2021. The German railway company Deutsche Bahn has engaged a New York law firm to fight off compensation claims that it might face under proposed legislation enabling Holocaust victims and their relatives to sue for damages in US courts. The state-owned network is the main successor to the Nazi-run Deutsche Reichsbahn which, along with other railways in German-occupied Europe, deported millions of Jews to death camps during the Second World War.
  22. ^ "Holocaust survivor launches legal claim against German railway". The Guardian. 30 July 2020. Archived from the original on 31 July 2020. Retrieved 7 May 2021. The scale of the Holocaust was only possible due to the efficiency and scale of the German railways. In January 1943, the head of the SS, Heinrich Himmler, wrote to Albert Ganzenmüller, the secretary of state for transport and the deputy director of the Reichsbahn, pleading for more train stock. "If I have any hope of quickly dealing with matters, I must have more haulage trains. Help me to get more," he said. Ganzenmüller, an early member of the Nazi party, was the only member of the railway to go on trial. On his first day in court in 1973 he had a heart attack and was declared medically unfit. He died in 1996. After the war, the German Democratic Republic in East Germany took over the name of the Deutsche Reichsbahn for its railway system. Today's Deutsche Bahn was created in 1994 after German reunification and the East German railway's merger with the West German Deutsche Bundesbahn.
  23. ^ "The foundation of Deutsche Bahn AG". Deutsche Bahn AG. 10 July 2008. Archived from the original on 27 December 2008. Retrieved 15 December 2022.
  24. ^ "Competition win for 3XN". World Architecture News. 21 December 2007. Retrieved 30 October 2009.
  25. ^ "Deutsche Bahn verwirft Pläne für Umzug |". Archived from the original on 6 February 2013. Retrieved 27 January 2022.
  26. ^ Jürgens, Isabell (19 February 2020). ""Cube Berlin" – Europas schlauestes Gebäude geht in Betrieb". (in German). Retrieved 7 June 2020.
  27. ^ "Partial sale of DB agreed" Railway Gazette International May 2008 page 289
  28. ^ "DB flotation on hold" Railway Gazette International November 2008 page 843
  29. ^ One way tickets Thessaloniki – Auschwitz Archived 8 February 2017 at the Wayback Machine, June 2015
  30. ^ Zug der Erinnerung/Thessaloniki Zug der Erinnerung (non-government organisation "Train of Commemoration").
  31. ^ Gwyn Topham; Helen Pidd; Pippa Crerar (4 June 2018). "Northern and GTR could be barred from rail franchises". The Guardian. London.
  32. ^ "Produktübersicht" on DB AG website
  33. ^ "S-Bahn (Germany)". ShowMeTheJourney. Retrieved 20 December 2022.
  34. ^ Deutsche Bahn AG. "DB Mobility Logistics Facts and figures 2012" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 June 2013. Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  35. ^ "Regional Tickets". Deutsche Bahn.

External links[edit]