Deutsche Bahn AG (DB AG, DBAG or DB) is the German national railway company. It came into existence in 1994 as the successor of the former state railways of Germany, the Deutsche Bundesbahn of West Germany and the Deutsche Reichsbahn of East Germany. It also gained ownership of former railway assets in West Berlin held by the VdeR.
Deutsche Bahn AG was founded on January 1, 1994 and, unlike its predecessors, is a public limited company. The founding DBAG was seen as the first step of the Bahnreform (administrative railway reform) and should not be confused with the planned privatisation. In 2007 all its shares were held by the Federal Republic of Germany, though privatisation is planned.
The second step of the Bahnreform was carried out in 1999. All rolling track, personnel and real assets were divided among the holding 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 not least introduced to implement the European Community directive 91/440/EEC that demands access to railway system free of discrimination.
The group is the largest German railway enterprise and one of the largest transport corporations in the world. About two billion passengers are served each year.
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 Main but moved to Potsdamer Platz in central Berlin in 1996, where it is located in a 26-storey office tower designed by Helmut Jahn, at the eastern end of the Sony Center and appropriately named BahnTower. As the lease expires in 2010, DB has announced plans to relocate to Berlin Hauptbahnhof. A move to Hamburg was briefly considered in 2005, but these plans were abandoned after political pressure.
There are other subsidiaries exist, sometimes jointly owned by DBAG and local government.
It is posssible to buy tickets and obtain train times for any journey in Europe from Deutsche Bahn's website.
Previous chairmen of the board were
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 DBAG 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 law project before the council of ministers which envisioned selling 25% of DBAG 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 DBAG and other unions, claiming a 31% pay rise for its members. The strike is the first nationwide railway strike since 1992 .