German train provider Deutsche Bahn has announced it will cut ticket prices for long distance journeys by 10% in 2020.
The price reduction reflects measures implemented by the German government aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions by incentivising the use of public transport: as of December 2019, value added tax (VAT) on rail travel in Germany has dropped from 19% to 7%; and Deutsche Bahn has pledged to pass on the savings directly to its customers. The new prices will apply to journeys of more than 50km between multiple rail regions; and Deutsche Bahn, which anticipates an increase of up to five million passengers per year stemming from its reduced train ticket prices, intends to extend the reductions to journeys of more than 50km within single regions within six months.
Deutsche Bahn, which does not plan to draw any profits from the VAT cut, has also announced it will reduce fares on special offers and cut prices on extra services, including the additional fee passengers must pay to transport bicycles. The company intends to invest €12bn in new trains by 2026, predominantly expanding its Intercity Express (ICE) fleet; and will spend a further €2bn on expanding wireless internet provision both on its trains and at stations by 2024. It is expected that all intercity trains operated by Deutsche Bahn will have wifi capability by 2021.
The news comes in stark contrast to the UK’s annual rail fare rise, which this year will see the price of train tickets increase by 2.7%. Commuters around the country have expressed outrage at the fare increase, which they say is unwarranted and disproportionate – train ticket prices in the UK have risen at twice the rate of wages in the last decade – and highlighted poor rates of performance by several rail franchises. A survey conducted by the UK’s independent transport watchdog Transport Focus found that 53% of rail users felt that current train fares do not represent value for money.