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Deutsche Bahn AG (DB AG, DBAG or DB) is the Germanmarker national railway company, a private joint stock company (AG). Headquartered in Berlinmarker, it came into existence in 1994 as the successor to the former state railways of Germanymarker, the Deutsche Bundesbahn of West Germanymarker and the Deutsche Reichsbahn of East Germanymarker. It also gained ownership of former railway assets in West Berlin held by the VdeR.

DB is organised as a business group and has over 500 subsidiaries. It describes itself as the second-largest transport company in the world after Deutsche Post AG and is the largest railway operator and infrastructure owner in Europe. About two billion passengers are carried each year.

The second step of the Bahnreform was carried out in 1999. All rolling track, personnel and real assets were divided between the holding company and the five principal subsidiaries of DBAG: DB Reise & Touristik AG (long distance passenger service, later renamed DB Fernverkehr AG), DB Regio AG (regional passenger services, in the course of the reform under charge of the federal states), DB Cargo AG (freight services, later changed to Railion AG), DB Netz AG (operating the railway system), and 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 access to railway system free of discrimination.

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.

DBAG has taken over the abbreviation and logo DB from the West German state railway Deutsche Bundesbahn, although it has modernised the logo, which is occasionally called "Dürrkeks" (after Heinz Dürr, the first chairman of the DB AG), a play on words meaning "meagre biscuit", referring to its shape and the sans-serif font, especially when compared to the older, more rounded Bundesbahn logo.

Originally DBAG was headquartered in Frankfurt am Mainmarker but moved to Potsdamer Platzmarker in central Berlinmarker in 1996, where it is located in a 26-storey office tower designed by Helmut Jahn at the eastern end of the Sony Centermarker and named BahnTower. As the lease expires in 2010, DB had announced plans to relocate to Berlin Hauptbahnhofmarker and in 2007 a proposal for a new headquarters by 3XN Architects won an architectural competition also inclusing Foster + Partners, Dominique Perrault and Auer + Weber. However, these plans have been put on hold and the BahnTower leased for at least three more years. A move to Hamburgmarker was briefly considered in 2005, but these plans were abandoned after political pressure.


While the railway network in Germany dates back to 1835 when the first tracks were laid on a route between Nuremberg and Fürth, Deutsche Bahn has been a relatively recent development in German Railway history. Founded in January 1994 as a joint stock company, Deutsche Bahn was designed to operate both the railways of the former East and West Germany after unification in November 1989 as a single uniform privately-run company. In its brief but interesting history there are three main development periods in this unified German railway: formation, early years (1994-1999), and 2000 to present

Corporate subdivisions

The DB group (Deutsche Bahn AG) is divided into three main operations groups: DB Bahn, DB Netze and DB Schenker. These subsidiaries are companies in their own right, although most of them are 100% owned by DBAG.

DB Bahn

DB Bahn is the group that manages passenger travel within Germany. Originally called Reise & Touristik, this group is responsible for the managing, ticketing, servicing and running of all German Intercity-Express, EuroCity, InterCity and Regionalbahn trains, and many commuter oriented urban Stadtschnellbahn (generally abbreviated as S-Bahn) networks within Germany. The group also handles the information and customer service side of the operation.

This group is divided into three business areas: DB Fernverkehr, DB Regio and DB Stadtverkehr.

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.

DB Fernverkehr operates all InterCityExpress and InterCity trains in Germany as well as several EuroCity trains throughout Europe. Unlike its sister companies DB Regio and Railion (formerly 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 (Veolia Verkehr most notably) combined amount to no more than 10-15 trains per day.

DB Regio

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 or their Landkreise. Competition for those state-sponsored services is somewhat more fierce than for long-distance services. Consequently, DB Regio has lost a considerable number of routes to its competitors. Some states have awarded long-term contracts to DB Regio (usually 10 to 15 years), which has sparked harsh criticism from anti-trust groups.

In January 2008 it was announced that, subject to regulatory approval, DB Regio would be taking over Laing Rail in the United Kingdommarker. This would mean that DB Regio would own Chiltern Railways and be joint operators of London Overground (with MTR Corporation) and Wrexham & Shropshire (with Renaissance Trains). In February 2009, DB Regio was shortlisted to run the Tyne and Wear Metro in Newcastle upon Tynemarker, UKmarker.

DB Stadtverkehr

DB Stadtverkehr is responsible for commuter services of the Berlin and Hamburg S-Bahns and numerous bus companies (see Bahnbus). The two S-Bahn networks handle over 500 million passengers annually..

DB Netze

Since the end of 2007 DB Netze has been responsible for infrastructure and operations, taking over from DB Netz AG. Its business areas including DB Netze Fahrweg, DB Netze Energie, DB Netze Personenbahnhöfe, DB ProjektBau and DB Station&Service. A further business area known as DB Dienstleistungen covers six different areas of operations: DB Fahrzeuginstandhaltung, DB Systel, DB Services, DB Fuhrpark, DB Kommunikationstechnik and DB Sicherheit.

DB Schenker

DB Schenker is the freight logistics subsidiary of DB and one of the leading globally integrated logistics service providers. DB Schenker combines all the logistic activities of DB, employing over 88,000 staff spread across some 2,000 locations in about 130 countries. Currently it is
  • No. 1 in Europe in rail freight
  • No. 1 in Europe in combined transport
  • No. 1 in Europe in land transportation
  • No. 2 worldwide in air freight
  • No. 3 worldwide in ocean freight
  • No. 6 in global contract logistics

Its two business areas are DB Schenker Rail, formerly Railion) and DB Schenker Logistics. Other subsidiaries include Bax Global, Transfesa and the former EWS, now DB Schenker Rail Ltd.

DB Schenker Rail

Formerly Railion, this company is the largest rail freight distribution company within Europe. Currently the company has over 100,000 shipments daily throughout Europe. This company employs 28,000 people

DB Schenker Rail has its head office in Mainzmarker, and is the holding company for the five (at 1 January 2009) national subsidiaries Railion Deutschland, Railion Nederland, Railion Danmark, Railion Italy and Railion Schweiz.

Foreign Firms

DB also has interests abroad, owning rail freight company EWS in the UK, which also operates the British Royal Train [26062] and also has interests in Eastern Europe.

It is possible to obtain train times for any journey in Europe from Deutsche Bahn's website.

Trans-Eurasia Logistics is a joint venture with RZD that operates container freight trains between Germanymarker and Chinamarker via Russiamarker.

Members of the board

Dr Werner Müller is the current director of the supervisory board (also at Degussa and Ruhrkohle AG).

Previous chairmen of the board were

Codeshare with airlines

In conjunction with American Airlines, Emirates Airline, China Airlines, and Lufthansamarker, Deutsche Bahn operates the AiRail Service between Frankfurt International Airportmarker and Cologne/Bonn, Düsseldorfmarker, Freiburgmarker, Hamburgmarker, Hanovermarker, Mannheimmarker, Munichmarker, Nurembergmarker, and Stuttgartmarker. DB has the IATA designator 2A.

Privatisation project

The planned privatisation is subject of a highly controversial political discussion in Germany. Whereas the government claims the need for fresh capital and efficiency improvements in favour of the privatisation, the opponents fear a deterioration of service in many less economic sectors. The main question is whether privatisation should be carried out with the railway system (integrated model) or without (split model). A political trade-off is likely, with the split model as basis, but DB having the right to operate the railway system for 15 years. An open question is the matter of compensation for investments into the system during this time.

The Social-Democrat Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee was to present a bill before the council of ministers which envisioned selling 25% of DB beginning in 2008. At term, the state should retain control by owning a 51% stake. Deutsche Bahn AG is evaluated at €20 billion. However, the railways are evaluated at €200 billion.

In October 2007 the railroad engineer's strike was another problem for the privatisation plans. The engineers' union GDL has refused to accept the labor contracts between DB and other unions, claiming a 31% pay rise for its members. The strike was the first nationwide railway strike since 1992 .

Rolling stock

See also


  1. " Deutsche Bahn AG at a glance." Deustche Bahn. Retrieved on 12 May 2009.
  2. Jahresbroschüre 2008 S. 19
  4. "The foundation of Deutsche Bahn AG" company website
  5. Deutsche Bahn AG: Kennzahlen 2005 – DB AG mit bestem Geschäftsjahr ihrer Geschichte, 23 September 2006
  6. Transporation and logistics in the DB schenker group - company website
  7. Railion is the largest European freight railroad (company webpage)
  8. Tickets - Timetable
  9. L'Allemagne s'apprête à vendre 25 % de la Deutsche Bahn, Le Monde, 24 July 2007
  10. Deutscher Bundestag Drucksache 16/3801
  11. German court blocks train strike, BBC, 8 August 2007

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