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The station charge system: transparent, clear and stable

The German Railway Regulation Act (ERegG) stipulates new legal bases for calculating station charges.

The station charges that were previously in effect according to the station pricing system (SPS 11) were replaced with new charges and charging principles on 1 January 2018. The charges were reviewed by the Federal Network Agency and approved in accordance with Section 33 of the ERegG. The ban against discrimination under railway law and Section 33 (2) of the ERegG prohibit charges other than the approved charges from being arranged.

Charging principles are described in Section 5 of the Special Section of the Infrastructure Usage Conditions Passenger Stations (INBP).

A distinction is still maintained between the transport segments within the meaning of Section 36 (2) No. 2 of the ERegG (local rail passenger transport services, "SPNV") and long-distance rail passenger transport services ("SPFV"), albeit with a new name. The INBP uses long-distance rail passenger transport as the umbrella term for all other transport services not covered by Section 36 (2) No. 2 of the ERegG.

Station charges for local rail passenger transport services are determined using new price classes, which replace the previous station categories. Price classes are determined by the station's category allocation in 2017 according to the previous category assignment system.

Example: Berlin Central was a category 1 station in 2017 = price class 1 in 2018

Stations are grouped by price class due to the legal requirement of annually adjusting station charges for local passenger rail transport by the adjustment rate for regionalisation funds. The station charge from the previous category pricing system (SPS 11) is used as the starting point for adjusting station charges in accordance with the ERegG.

In other words, the price in effect for the category in 2017 as of 1 January 2017 for the 2016/2017 working timetable year is used as the basis for the 2018 station charge in that price class.

In accordance with the specifications of the ERegG, the 2017 charge is adjusted uniformly by the rate of change in the total amount of regionalisation funds available to the federal states. This rate is currently 1.8%.

Example: 2017 charge + 1.8% = 2018 charge

Charges for local passenger transport services for the coming years will be adjusted using the same rate of change.

Example: 2018 charge (2017 price +1.8%) + 1.8% = 2019 charge

The published List of Station Prices 2018 indicates each station's price class. Station charges apply for one calendar year, for the first time beginning 1 January 2018. The charges have been approved by the Federal Network Agency.


Exception: agreements between DB Station&Service AG and local transport authorities

Section 37 (3) of the ERegG does allow for charges that deviate from the charge for local passenger rail transport described if an agreement exists between DB Station&Service AG and a local transport authority.

Charges for long-distance rail passenger transport are calculated according to cost, similarly to the way charges are calculated for local rail passenger transport.

Cost as the basis: Charges for long-distance rail passenger transport are calculated based on the cost of the station plus a uniform percentage contribution margin.

Station charges are calculated regionally according to the local transport authority area. Prices are calculated based the allocation of train stops to station categories in accordance with the category allocation system (see Section 5.1.3 of the Special Section of the INBP).

Prices are calculated using cost references that are specific to a category and local transport authority.

To synchronise station charges for long-distance rail passenger transport as best as possible with charges for local rail passenger transport, the 2018 station charges for long-distance rail passenger transport are also calculated based on the 2017 charges for long-distance rail passenger transport per category and local transport authority area (and including the transport service factor). Charges have also been changed consistently based on the rate of change of regionalisation funds made available to the federal states and the arrangements affecting charges as per Section 37 (3) of the ERegG.

Example: 2017 charge (including the transport service factor) +1.8% (current rate of regionalisation funding) + x% based on arrangements as per Section 37 (3) of the ERegG (in the relevant local transport authority area) = 2018 charge

The charge for each station is listed in the List of Station Prices 2018. Charges are valid for one calendar year, for the first time beginning 1 January 2018. 

The some 5,400 stations are allocated to a price class, and thus to a station charge, based on the category to which they were allocated in the previous category system. The 2017 category is equivalent to the 2018 price class. All stations were grouped into price classes for 2018 based on their categorisation in 2017.

New stations that open after the 2017/2018 timetable change will be allocated to a category and price class using uniform criteria nationwide in accordance with the previous category system.

Each station is allocated to a price class (formerly category) according to standard national features; as a rule, top-category stations (formerly category 1 and 2) are primarily major junction stations, while the lower categories (formerly categories 5 and 6) are usually stations with lesser traffic significance or infrastructure or, in the case of category 7, simply stops. Further explanation of the price classes and former station categories is available on the internet at www.deutschebahn.com/bahnhofskategorien.