Rail tickets for long-distance trains a bit cheaper – surcharges in local transport

Significantly more expensive train tickets for commuters in local transport, but hardly increased prices for longer distances – when looking at the cost of train journeys, the picture is divided for millions of train drivers in Germany. For example, citizens in long-distance transport have only had to cope with price increases of 1.3 percent in the past four years, the Federal Statistical Office reported on Friday. However, prices in Deutsche Bahn's local transport rose by 14 percent, more than general inflation.

The Wiesbaden statisticians compared the price development for several modes of transport between November 2015 and November 2019. Accordingly, long-distance bus travel in particular has become significantly more expensive – by a whopping 15.4 percent. As in local rail transport, prices there rose significantly more than consumer prices during the period (5.6 percent). Tickets for local public transport (bus and train in transport associations) also rose significantly, by 8.1 percent. Domestic flights, according to the test buyers' observations, were cheaper by 2.9 percent.

Long-distance transport tickets are in high demand, especially on weekends, and are often correspondingly expensive. However, many train drivers use a Bahncard for discounts or get savings prices away from peak times. Only a minority of train drivers pay the regular price. The surcharges in local transport are likely to hurt many commuters.

The prices for rail long-distance tickets, which have barely risen on average, should become cheaper from January. The federal government's climate package stipulates that the value added tax on long-distance transport will be reduced from 19 to 7 percent from New Year's Eve – as well as in local transport, where 7 percent value-added tax already applies. Deutsche Bahn wants to pass the advantage on to customers: long-distance ticket prices will drop by around 10 percent from January. "We are certain that the price perception of the train will change significantly," said a rail spokesman on Friday. Long-distance tickets are available from January onwards from 17.90 euros.

The federally owned group expects an annual increase of five million passengers with the reduction of long-distance sales tax. This would further increase the number of long-distance travelers: In 2018, almost 133 million passengers used the train for longer journeys in Germany, almost 14 percent more than in 2015 (almost 117 million). For comparison: Around 24 million people boarded a plane at main German airports in 2018.

Deutsche Bahn plans to invest more than twelve billion euros in the expansion and modernization of its vehicle fleet in the coming years. This should increase capacities. The railways still have major problems with the punctuality of trains and bottlenecks in the network. This year, the railways also invested 1.3 billion euros to renovate 650 stations.


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