Deutsche Bahn trains at Leipzig Hbf (Photo: DB/Max Lautenschläger)

GERMANY: The federal government is planning to complete the merger of DB Netz AG and DB Station&Service AG by January 1 2024, when the merged business will become known as InfraGO.

More details of the government’s plans for restructuring the two Deutsche Bahn businesses emerged on November 22 when Susanne Henckel, Secretary of State at the Federal Ministry of Transport & Digital, outlined the coalition government’s latest thinking in a keynote speech at a debate staged in Berlin by Bundesverband SchienenNahverkehr, the Federal Association of Suburban & Local Rail Traffic.

Asserting that ‘defining a target picture was more important than clarifying the future form of the business’, Henckel said that implementing the change would be based on four criteria.

First would be merger of the two infrastructure divisions, DB Netz and DB Station&Service, into a single entity. Second would be to finance the merged business more easily and sustainably thanks to a new financing instruments. Third would be control by federal government and better transparency through ongoing monitoring of business activities. Fourth would be a solution-orientated approach that would require legislative changes in the near future.

Dr Jörg Sandvoß, appointed in July this year as DB Group Representative for Infrastructure in the Public Interest, emphasised that the poor quality of Germany’s railway infrastructure was the biggest factor hindering access to the network. Rapid changes could only be brought about by raising network capacity, he said, noting that the timetable for achieving the transport policy goals was ‘very ambitious’.

Initial proposals for the merger of DB Netz and DB Station&Service were announced in November last year. The coalition said then that Deutsche Bahn would be retained as an integrated group under public ownership, but that the two infrastructure companies would be ‘merged into a new infrastructure division for the common good’.