germany Rail Travel: leading door-to-door travel
The German rail market, together with the French, is one of the largest and most developed in Europe. Germany’s rail network is leading the way in multimodality. Airports such as Frankfurt, Cologne, and Dusseldorf have modern rail stations that allow their passengers to reach a multitude of destinations quickly and comfortably. You can even catch a high-speed train direct from Frankfurt airport to Amsterdam Central in under 4 hours for example. The Air/Rail cooperation between Lufthansa and DB helps this and is a great example of how collaboration can benefit customers.
Competition in the German rail industry
European rail providers are now experiencing what the airline industry experienced ten years ago with the entry of Low-Cost Carriers (LCCs). New private rail providers are gradually joining the market. The German rail market, however, is yet to see a new long-distance or high-speed player as competition is currently limited to regional trains only. Even though the market is liberalized, high investment costs and the dominance of DB have not played in favor of attracting new entrants.
On top of this, another challenge has been the coach market rise. That was privatized last year, but we see already a much more differentiated, low-cost offer in German coaches, with onboard WI-FI and entertainment systems. In addition to having unique direct routes that don’t exist in rail.
As a conclusion, the German rail market could really use a strong contender besides DB. Ultimately, this will bring strong benefits for the customer, as prices will be driven down, services improved and customer satisfaction rise. It’s only a matter of time before this European giant follows in the steps of its neighboring countries. Customers will be the main driver of this shift as they demand more and better services. My guess is that it will be a regional provider or a joint-venture making the jump to long-distance before a large private operator joins the market.
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