Deutsche Bahn structure 'hampers fair competition'

A report by an anti-trust watchdog has criticized Germany's Deutsche Bahn national railway company for standing in the way of fair competition. It demanded its infrastructure and transport units should be separated.

Germany's Monopolies Commission sharply criticized policymakers for dragging their feet on the restructuring of national railway company Deutsche Bahn (DB).

The independent panel of experts advising the German government and legislature in the fields of competition and regulation said in its latest biannual report on DB that Europe's largest railway operator continued to hamper competitors in no small way.

Deutsche Bahn is a joint-stock company, with the state being its sole shareholder. The Monopolies Commission emphasized that the only way to establish undistorted competition on long-distance and regional rail routes was to disassemble the integrated firm, meaning that its infrastructure and transport units should be separated.

Competition off-track?

The panel argues that current structures and regulations were "not suited to prevent discriminating behavior" towards smaller, private competitors having to pay fees for using DB's rail network.

"Policymakers have to be more active in advancing competition on the railway markets," Commission President Daniel Zimmer said in a statement.

He suggested that the transport units such as DB Schenker Logistics and DB Schenker Rail be privatized as soon as possible.

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