Deutsche Bahn loses case against rival bus service

A court has ruled that Deutsche Bahn cannot protect its extensive bus services by stopping a start-up business which offers cheaper long-distance coach trips across Germany.

Deutsche Bahn loses case against rival bus service
Deinbus founders Kuhr, Ingo Mayr-Knoch and Christian Janisch. Photo: Deinbus

Deutsche Bahn not only operates the country’s rail network, it is also the biggest German bus operator. It owns Bex, Autokraft and Regiobus Dresden, which in 2009 ran 22 routes and served 700,000 passengers.

But it cannot close down an initiative called Deinbus started by a group of students which challenges the traditional way of managing bus routes. They arrange bus trips for a particular route on a particular day – once at least ten people have registered online for it.

They were granted permission to start their company by the Lake Constance local authority but this was challenged by Deutsche Bahn which made a legal complaint.

Initially the Bahn seemed en route to victory, with a chamber of commerce ruling against Deinbus, arguing that a 1930s law forbids bus services on routes already served by the Bahn unless they offer a ‘significant improvement’.

But Frankfurt District Court on Wednesday rejected its complaint and said the authority had been correct to award an operating license.

The fact that Deinbus does not offer regular services, rather arranging bus trips as and when passengers want to travel, meant they were not covered by the ban.

“We couldn’t be happier,” said Alexander Kuhr, one of the Deinbus founders, shortly after the verdict.

“We want to now offer more trips and to grow further,” he said, adding that the attempt by Deutsche Bahn to close them down had only generated publicity for his company.

Deutsche Bahn did not attend the hearing but later issued a statement saying it was going to check the verdict before deciding on whether to appeal.


Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Swedish government shelves plans for two fast train links

Sweden's government has called for a halt to planning to faster train links between Gothenburg and Borås and Jönköping and Hässleholm, in a move local politicians have called "a catastrophe".

Swedish government shelves plans for two fast train links

In an announcement slipped out just before Christmas Eve, the government said it had instructed the Swedish Transport Administration to stop all planning for the Borås to Gothenburg link, stop the ongoing work on linking Hässleholm and Lund. 

“The government wants investments made in the railway system to first and foremost make it easier for commuting and cargo traffic, because that promotes jobs and growth,” infrastructure minister Andreas Carlson said in a press release. “Our approach is for all investments in the railways that are made to be more cost effective than if the original plan for new trunk lines was followed.” 

Ulf Olsson, the Social Democrat mayor in Borås, told the TT newswire that the decision was “a catastrophe”. 

“We already have Sweden’s slowest railway, so it’s totally unrealistic to try to build on the existing railway,” he said. We are Sweden’s third biggest commuting region and have no functioning rail system, and to release this the day before Christmas Eve is pretty symptomatic.”

Per Tryding, the deputy chief executive for the Southern Sweden Chamber of Commerce, complained that the decision meant Skåne, Sweden’s most southerly county, would now have no major rail infrastructure projects. 

“Now the only big investment in Skåne which was in the plan is disappearing, and Skåne already lay far behind Gothenburg and Stockholm,” he said.

“This is going to cause real problems and one thing that is certain that it’s going to take a very long time, whatever they eventually decide. It’s extremely strange to want to first suspend everything and then do an analysis instead of doing it the other way around.”  

The government’s instructions to the transport agency will also mean that there will be no further planning on the so-called central parts of the new planned trunk lines, between Linköping and Borås and Hässleholm and Jönköping. 

Carlson said that the government was prioritising “the existing rail network, better road standards, and a build-out of charging infrastructure”.