Updated: Nov 7, 2020
By Emma Harvey
Whilst British train travellers were met by a 2.7% rise in rail fares at the start of 2020, Germans were met by a much-welcomed reduction in rail ticket prices. In response to concerns over climate change, the German railway company Deutsche Bahn, cut their long-distance train fares for the first time in 17 years.
Deutsche Bahn hopes that the reduction in travel cost will make train travel more attractive to passengers making longer trips across Germany, as opposed to using less climate-friendly options, such as travelling by car or by plane. Passengers now travelling over 50km (31 miles) on Deutsche Bahn’s Intercity Express trains (ICE) will have their fares reduced by 10%.
Deutsche Bahn CE, Dr Richard Lutz, said “We are delighted for our millions of long-distance customers in Germany that we can now offer them even more attractive ticket prices on 1 January in the most climate-friendly means of transport.”
The government anticipates that the lower rail fares will encourage an additional 5 million people per year, German nationals and visitors alike, to travel on long-distance trains. The national rail company will also be decreasing its fares on special offers and additional services, such as the BahnCard100 railcard, seat reservations and transporting bicycles. On top of this new incentive to travel by rail, Deutsche Bahn is also set to spend €12 billion by 2026 on new trains.
The head of Die Linke party, Katja Kipping, told Deutschlandfunk radio that the tax cut was "long overdue" but "really not enough." Kipping again urged the government to give every German citizen a free BahnCard 50, which grants up to 50% discounts on already lowered Deutsche Bahn tickets.
In November, proposals were introduced for public transport in the city centre zone of Augsburg to be made completely free at the beginning of 2020. This comes in an effort to improve the air quality in the inner city, to reduce the search for parking spaces, and to make the city centre more attractive for residents and visitors.
As it stands, however, not all commuters in Germany will have cheaper travel fares this year. Rail prices for short-distance travel and public transport in regions such as Berlin, Hamburg, Bremen, Brandenburg and the Rhineland are due to rise. Fares for regional trains are also set to increase. In Berlin and Brandenburg, passengers face a 3.3% increase in the cost of tickets for buses, trams, the S-Bahn and the U-Bahn.