APRIL 1 sees a further restructuring of German Railway, as agreed at a board meeting on March 1. Supervisory Board Chairman Dr Dieter Vogel said that ’despite indisputable successes in the first six years of the restructured railway, the present management structure is too complex and has proved to be insufficiently attuned to the customer.’

Five sectors will form the top tier: Passenger, Freight, Stations, Track and Property. Each will have a similar structure, with common departments for finance, marketing, staff and production. The present subsidiaries, DB Cargo, DB Reise & Touristik, DB Regio, DB Station & Service and DB Netz will become business units with full product and accounting responsibility, although their legal status will not be affected. Thus the Passenger sector will embrace Reise & Touristik, Regio, Mitropa, and so on.

The restructuring forms part of a cost-cutting programme aimed at saving nearly DM10bn by 2004, when annual turnover is targeted to reach DM35bn. Train-km are to be slashed, with many InterRegio trains withdrawn. Some may become ’InterRegio-Express’ services, for which the Länder would assume financial responsibility.

More drastically, Management Board Chairman Hartmut Mehdorn proposes to improve the efficiency of regional services under the ’Regent’ initiative. Around 9000 route-km have been identified to form 37 regional networks. Detailed proposals and possible pilot projects are to be identified by mid-year. Mehdorn emphasised that through ticketing and a unified timetable would continue. The move has revived fears of widespread line closures, as he has already suggested bus substitutions. n