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Deutsche Bahn AG to make changes to ticket sales

Date of issue: 24.05.2016

Following investigations by the Bundeskartellamt, Deutsche Bahn AG has undertaken to make far-reaching changes to the sale of passenger tickets. The measures will improve the ticket sales possibilities of its competitors. In early 2014 the Bundeskartellamt had initiated proceedings against Deutsche Bahn AG on the suspicion that it had abused its dominant position in the sale of rail passenger tickets (see press release of 30.01.2014). The authority has now terminated the proceedings on account of the commitments undertaken by the company.

Andreas Mundt, President of the Bundeskartellamt: "Competition in the rail sector depends on competition in sales, i.e. beginning with the sale of rail tickets. We initiated a proceeding in order to end Deutsche Bahn's obstructive practices in impeding its competitors' ticket sales. Deutsche Bahn has now offered extensive commitments which make it much easier for its competitors to sell tickets. For example, it will now allow them to sell their tickets in future in railway station shops. There will no longer be any rental contract clauses which have so far hindered this. This will give competition in rail services new impetus."

Deutsche Bahn AG's commitments contain the following points:

  • Commission charges which are paid by Deutsche Bahn AG and its competitors for the reciprocal sale of passenger tickets will be standardized and reduced to a large extent. As yet Deutsche Bahn AG has paid its competitors a lower rate of commission for ticket sale services on behalf of Deutsche Bahn AG than it has charged its competitors for its own ticket sale services.
  • Competitors of Deutsche Bahn AG in local passenger rail services may in future also sell long distance rail tickets of Deutsche Bahn AG at their ticket machines.  This is particularly relevant for travellers at railway stations at which Deutsche Bahn AG no longer stops and where those travellers have not been able to buy long distance rail tickets.
  • Deutsche Bahn's competitors will have easier access to possibilities to sell passenger tickets in railway station shops. Up to now rental contracts for railway station shops contained clauses which made it virtually impossible for third parties to sell tickets. This meant that this comparably low-cost alternative channel for selling tickets via staff at railway stations was not available to competitors.
  • In future competitors will have more freedom to organize their own ticket sales. Railway companies are obliged by law to cooperate with one another in setting tariffs and consequently in selling tickets but not as extensively as previously practised.

In a decision taken in accordance with § 32b of the German Competition Act (GWB), the Bundeskartellamt has declared the commitments offered by Deutsche Bahn AG binding. The authority has limited the valildity of its decision to 31.12.2023.

Further information on the proceeding is available in a case summary (available in German only) on the Bundeskartellamt's website.

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