When I arrived here I received from my organization a BahnCard 50 through which I was able to travel and spend less money as almost half of the price was covered through the card. Still, the price of each ticket that I bought was very high. I was interested in knowing why a transport that is supposed to help people to reduce the usage of plane and cars was so expensive. When I searched I saw comments by people saying that the reason why the tickets are so expensive is that, for the longest time, the Deutsche Bahn (German Railway) had a monopoly on inter-city ground travel. That let them set the price at whatever rate they want. Although this company is 100% owned by the German state it's still a private company.
In the news was reported that rail operator Deutsche Bahn announced on Friday it was set to increase the cost of long-distance rail tickets by an average of 1.9 percent – the highest price hike since 2021. The new prices will come into force on December 12th, and Deutsche Bahn said it was in response to inflation. Super-Sparpreis (super-saver price) and Sparpreis (saver price) tickets will remain unchanged at €17.90 and €21.50 respectively. However, the Flexpreis (flexible price) and the prices for route season tickets will rise by an average of 2.9 percent. Bahncards, which allow holders to buy discounted tickets, will also become 2.9 percent more expensive. As a person that has a BahnCard 50, I think that putting higher prices will make people use less the train and use more the plane and the cars.
Prices for long-distance travel dropped by 10 percent in 2020 after the federal government lowered the value-added tax. The aim was to encourage more people to take the train instead of a car or plane. But the Deutsche Bahn financial struggle was raised due to the Covid crisis. The price increase of 1.9 percent on average is the highest since 2012. In the first half of 2021 alone, the company posted a loss of €1.4 billion. The goal still remains to double the number of long-distance trail passengers by 2030 compared to 2015. It is hoped that this will help Germany achieve its climate goals in transport. To do this, billions of euros are being invested in trains, the rail network, and additional staff to upgrade the network. Deutsche Bahn has not yet announced a price increase in regional transport for this year. However, the rail operator only raises prices for journeys outside of regional transport associations, which affects about every fifth customer journey. It comes after a series of strikes by members of the train drivers’ union (GDL) across Germany this summer which saw the GDL putting pressure on the rail operator to increase workers’ wages. In September, the union and Deutsche Bahn announced they had reached a deal on pay and conditions.
With the rate that is going now, and the financial issues of middle-class people, the usage of the trains will drop, or the movement of people will be limited. A high price of a ticket makes it easier for people to choose a plane or take the car to go places because movement is a necessity and the high prices make it more difficult, especially if you don't earn enough money to afford to buy such a ticket. If you come as a volunteer then I hope your NGO or the institution where you work will support you financially so you will be able to travel by train instead of a plane or car.
Photo credits: https://www.railway-technology.com/news/db-international-train-services/