2017 Integrated Report – Departure into a new era

Political environment

We regularly report on the development of competition on the rails and on the development of the regulatory framework in the railway sector in our competition report.

Regulatory and transport policy topics

Master plan for rail freight transport presented

In the year under review, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (Bundesministerium für Verkehr und digitale Infrastruktur, BMVI) presented its “master plan for rail freight transport,” prepared as part of a cross-indus­­try initiative. The master plan proposes concrete measures for sustainably strengthening rail freight transport by 2030. The plan is made up of ten measures that include both entrepreneurial and political tasks to improve the competitiveness of rail freight transport.

One core element is the marked reduction in train-path prices for rail freight transport for an initial period of five years, to be financed by the Federal Government. The Federal Government and DB Netz AG hope to conclude negotiations on the implementation of this measure in the first half of 2018.

In addition, the master plan includes the construction of a test field in Munich for the automation of train formation, as well as a capital expenditure program for the modernization of rail freight transport.

Decision on the EU Commission’s contract violation proceedings

On June 28, 2017 the ECJ issued its judgment on the European Commission’s contract violation proceedings against Germany to establish potential breaches of European railway law. The ECJ largely rejected the Commission’s arguments. At the time of the lawsuit, it found – solely in respect of external publicity about accounting – that the Federal Government had not taken all the measures necessary to ensure that the accounts system would ensure compliance with the ban on the transfer of public funds for the operation of rail infrastructure to transport services. On December 14, 2017, BNetzA filed requests with DB Netz AG seeking information about the planned implementation measures. For the implementation of the judgment we must bear in mind that the current legal framework has changed significantly, inter alia as a result of the ERegG.

General framework

Further development of the transport and regulatory framework

Federal Transport Infrastructure Plan 2030 and Innovation Forum on speeding up planning #CONSTRUCTION

The German Federal Cabinet approved the Federal Transport Infrastructure Plan (Bundesverkehrswegeplan; BVWP) 2030 on August 3, 2016. The relevant additional legislation was successfully passed on December 16, 2016. Key measures filed by DB Group for the new BVWP were adopted.

BVWP 2030 contains important projects for the further development of the rail network. Top priority, for example, is given to the expansion of the five major hubs (Frankfurt am Main, Hamburg, Cologne, Mannheim and Munich) and to the East corridor, which is important for freight transport. In September 2017 the BMVI completed its evaluation of a continuous network for trains 740 meters long, which would make a material contribution to improving the performance of the rail network and to reducing production costs in rail freight transport. The final report of the Innovation Forum on speeding up planning, initiated by the BMVI, was presented as early as May 2017. The report makes recommendations for implementing the speeding up of planning by means of a radical reform of planning law. This could allow the new rail projects in BVWP 2030 to be implemented faster.

Rules on driverless vehicles #DIGITALIZATION

In June 2017, the Bundestag adopted regulations on the operation of motor vehicles using highly and fully automated driving systems. The law stipulates that the operation of motor vehicles using highly and fully automated driving systems is permitted “in accordance with their intended purpose.” If the automated driving system is only designed for use on motorways, for example, the vehicle may not be used on other roads. If the highly and fully automated driving system has taken control of the vehicle, the driver may cease to pay attention to traffic and the guidance of the vehicle but must be sufficiently ready to take back control if the system calls on him or her to do so. The law also regulates liability issues. While the vehicle is in automated operation, responsibility for accidents lies with the manufacturer.

New road traffic regulations

On May 31, 2017 the Commission presented its recommendations on the “Europe on the Move” strategy, the purpose of which is to further regulate market access and social conditions in road freight traffic. The application of minimum wage laws to truck drivers, stricter regulations on driving and rest periods and simplified cabotage regulations are intended to improve road safety, combat illegal employment and ensure that conditions for workers are appropriate. A further focus is on proposals for fairer, more environmentally friendly and standardized toll collection in the EU. Further proposals presented by the Commission on November 8, 2017 include new regulations on topics such as combined transport, market access for long-distance buses, and emissions standards for private and utility vehicles.

Revision of passenger rights in Europe

On September 27, 2017 the Commission presented a proposal for the revision of the rules on rail passenger rights, under which passengers would no longer be entitled to fare refunds in the event of delays due to natural disasters or extreme weather conditions. The proposal provides that travelers should be given additional information, conversely, and reinforces the rights of people with restricted mobility.

Postponement of the funding period for increased energy efficiency in rail transport

The Federal Government’s final version of the draft funding guidelines for strengthening electric rail transport postpones the funding period by a year. The current draft ac­cordingly states that funding will be available for the period from 2018 to 2022. No notification has yet taken place at EU level.

Only TOC are eligible to apply for funding. Payments are to be made from the Energy and Climate Fund (Energie- und Klimafonds, EKF) if the TOC can prove that it has in­­creas­­­ed the energy efficiency of electrically-powered transport services. Payments will be made retroactively: in the spring of each year the transport companies must document the performance of their electrically powered transport
services in Germany, and the energy efficiency achieved, in the previous year. Funding of up to 100 million a year is expected to be available.