A Competitive Analysis between Long-distance Bus and Long-distance Rail Transportation after Deregulation of the Long-haul Transportation Market in Germany

Bachelor Thesis 2015 110 Pages

Economy - Transport Economics


Table of contents


List of abbreviations

List of figures

List of tables

1 Introduction and structure of work
1.1 Problem
1.2 Objectives and structure of the work

2 Definitions of passenger transportation in Germany
2.1 Public urban passenger transport
2.2 Public long-distance passenger transport

3 Presentation of fundamentals
3.1 Historical development of the long-distance bus transportation
3.2 Development of the legal framework
3.3 Current market situation
3.4 Environmental aspects

4 Selected provider of long-distance transportation
4.1 Long-distance railway companies
4.2 Long-distance bus companies
4.2.1MeinFernbus Flixbus
4.3 Airlines
4.3.2Air Berlin
4.4 Interim conclusion

5 Comparison of suppliers based on their offer
5.1 Comparison of used modes of transport
5.1.1 Operated trains ofDB Fernverkehr AG
5.1.2 Operated long-distance buses
5.1.3 Operated airplanes
5.2 Comparison of offers
5.2.1 Route network
5.2.2 Schedule and Travel time
5.2.3 Fares
5.2.4 Transaction, rebooking and cancellation fees
5.2.5 Sales channels
5.3 Comparison of service
5.3.1 Comfort
5.3.2 Additional offers
5.3.3 Passenger information
5.3.4 Passenger rights

6 SWOT Analysis
6.1 Definition
6.2 Implementation of SWOT Analysis
6.3 Comparison to air transport

7 Benchmark Analysis
7.1 Definition
7.2 A Benchmark approach

8 Comparison to other countries
8.1 United Kingdom
8.2 Sweden
8.3 France

9 Conclusion and outlook

Declaration in lieu of oath

List of references

List of acts, administrative orders and regulations

List of jurisdiction



Since January 2013, the long-distance transportation market in Germany has been deregulated due to the amendment of the Passenger Transport Act (Personenbeförderungsgesetz). This means that, in the future, long-distance buses may operate on routes where they were previously not allowed, to protect the interest of the railways. Following the opening up of the market in 2013, more and more long-distance bus companies have penetrated the market and a major price war has ensued. The Deutsche Bahn AG had initially underestimated the competition, and is now trying to regain passengers through elaborate marketing ploys.

The aim of this thesis is to compare two very different modes of transport, namely rail-bound long-distance transport and long-distance bus transport. Various criteria that affect the subjective trip perception of an average passenger are listed. To complete the comparison, domestic air transport is also briefly discussed, as this is also a mode of long-distance transport.

The comparison yields a differentiated view of the modes of transport and various positive and negative features can be highlighted. Nevertheless, a recommendation for or against a party is not possible in this work, as it is highly dependent on the personal preferences of the passenger. But the fact is that the various providers do not share the same competitive conditions. Till this situation is not regulated by law, a fair comparison cannot take place in any case.

List of abbreviations

illustration not visible in this excerpt

List of figures

Figure 2.1: Passengers transported in Germany in 2013 in millions 3

Figure 3.1: Passengers of long-distance rail and bus transportation in 2014 in millions 11

Figure 3.2: Market shares of the long-distance buses in Germany in 2014 12

Figure 3.3: Emissions from carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide in grams per passenger kilometre (g/pkm) in 2010 13

Figure 3.4: Emissions of fine dust and nitrogen oxides in grams per passenger kilometre (g/pkm) in 2010 14

Figure 5.1: A train of 407 series 21

Figure 5.2: A MAN Lions Coach in use for MeinFernbus 23

Figure 5.3: An Airbus A319 of Germanwings 24

Figure 5.4: Seat pitch at Postbus (left) and MeinFernbus Flixbus (right) 36

Figure 7.1: The benchmarking process 52

List of tables

Table 5.1: The connection of the 20 largest cities in Germany to the long-distance network

Table 5.2: The connection of neighbouring European cities to the long-distance network

Table 5.3: Overview of daily connections between modes of transport and their travel time on the Dusseldorf–Berlin route

Table 5.4: Overview of daily connections of modes of transport and their travel time on the Hamburg–Nuremberg route

Table 5.5: Overview of daily connections of modes of transport and their travel time on the Cologne–Mannheim route

Table 5.6: Overview of normal prices and discounted prices on the Dusseldorf–Berlin route

Table 5.7: Overview of normal prices and discounted prices on the Hamburg–Nuremberg route

Table 5.8: Overview of normal prices and discounted prices on the Cologne–Mannheim route

Table 5.9: Normal price and travel time in relation

Table 5.10: Discounted price and travel time in relation

Table 5.11: Comparison of transaction fees of the respective suppliers

Table 5.12: Comparison of rebooking fees of the respective suppliers

Table 5.13: Comparison of cancellation fees of the respective suppliers

Table 5.14: Comparison of the various sales channels of providers

Table 5.15: Comparison of providers in terms of their comfort services

Table 5.16: Availability of toilets per passenger in comparison

Table 5.17: Availability of toilets at an average utilization per passenger in comparison

Table 5.18: Baggage regulations of each supplier

Table 5.19: Pet policy of each supplier

Table 6.1: SWOT Analysis of long-distance rail transportation

Table 6.2: SWOT Analysis of long-distance bus transportation

Table 6.3: SWOT analysis of domestic air transport

1 Introduction and structure of work

The general introduction to the topic of this bachelor’s thesis should give an overview of the current situation of domestic long-distance transportation in Germany, as influenced by the deregulation of the long-haul transportation market in 2013. In addition to the problem, the objectives of this bachelor’s thesis are formulated and explained more concretely below.

1.1 Problem

On 1 January 2013, the Passenger Transport Act (Personenbeförderungsgesetz, abbreviated: PBefG) was amended, and long-distance passenger transport in the Federal Republic of Germany was deregulated. Previously, private providers were not allowed to offer long-distance bus services in competition with existing rail lines. Market access was facilitated greatly by the deregulation. Since then, an increasing number of privately run long-distance bus companies have entered the market, which are in direct competition with the government-owned passenger rail services of Deutsche Bahn.

The amendments to the PBefG, the contents of which had remained largely unchanged since coming into force on 1 April 1935, were introduced partly due to the debates between politicians, transport scientists, and various stakeholders.[1] In addition to the numerous proponents of the deregulation, who argued for the need for free competition and an end to the monopoly of Deutsche Bahn AG in this field, there are also several opponents of the deregulation. Critics claim that key issues such as the growing burden on German motorways, the introduction of a toll for long-distance buses, and dealing with passenger rights, remain unaddressed or insufficiently addressed.

Since this is a relatively new topic, there is a lack of scientifically sound data and scientific literature, which makes it difficult to research this subject.

1.2 Objectives and structure of the work

As part of this thesis, a broad overview of public passenger transport in Germany is given first. Relevant terms are defined, and the historical and legal framework of the deregulation of the long-haul transportation market is highlighted.

Subsequently, the specific properties of the two modes of transport, namely long-distance bus transportation and rail-bound long-distance transportation, are compared with each other on the basis of certain parameters, such as comfort, price, and travel time. Further, the two modes of transport are compared using SWOT and benchmark analyses. Since the German domestic air transport can currently compete on price with the existing modes of transport, this mode of transport is also considered, though not in as much detail.

The core of this thesis is a SWOT analysis, which compares the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and risks associated with the different modes of transport. Since the Deutsche Bahn AG, with its subsidiary DB Fernverkehr AG, is currently the only railway company (Eisenbahnverkehrsunternehmen, abbreviated: EVU) in Germany to offer long-distance transportation, the comparison in this thesis is limited to the offers of the state-owned company. From the variety of operators of long-distance bus transportation, the two largest were selected as examples. To draw a comparison with air transport, the two largest German domestic carriers were selected.

2 Definitions of passenger transportation in Germany

To provide an initial overview of the topic, the basics and the structure of passenger transportation in Germany (Öffentlicher Personenverkehr, abbreviated: ÖPV) are shown, and relevant terms are defined in the present chapter.

Public transport is the ‘carriage of passengers by public transport companies’.[2] In principle, public transport in Germany is open to every citizen and can be categorized using various features, such as modes (e.g. air, sea, rail, and road) and distances (e.g. urban and interurban).

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 2.1: Passengers transported in Germany in 2013 in millions[3]

Public transportation in Germany can be divided into public urban passenger transport (ÖPNV) and public long-distance passenger transport (Öffentlicher Personenfernverkehr, abbreviated: ÖPFV). The main differences between the two are pointed out below.

2.1 Public urban passenger transport

Public transport is the carriage of passengers on regular services in urban, suburban, or regional services. Normally, the duration of the journey does not exceed one hour, and the distance covered is less than 50 km.[4] The various transports used differ primarily according to their form of locomotion (i.e. on rail or road-bound) and by the maximum transport capacity. In addition to trams, buses, trains, and other vehicles on scheduled services, taxis and rental cars are also part of public transport.[5]

In the regionalization law (Regionalisierungsgesetz) of the Federal Republic of Germany of 27 December 1993, the ensuring of a sufficient service of local public transport is defined as a task of general interest.[6] [7] The financing of public transport in Germany is collected largely from the users of the transport network in the form of fare revenues. Nevertheless, the state annually subsidizes public transport with over seven billion euros via regionalization funds (Regionalisierungsmittel). These subsidies are sourced from fuel tax revenues.[8] A study by the Association of German Transport Companies (Verband deutscher Verkehrsunternehmen e.V.) shows that the subsidies will no longer suffice in the future due to the renewal of investments and the effects of inflation.[9] The Federal Association of Rail Transport (Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft Schienenpersonennahverkehr) has called for an increase in regionalization funds, as the existing funding will no longer be able to finance public transport in the near future.[10]

2.2 Public long-distance passenger transport

Public passenger transport can be divided into various categories. In this thesis, the focus is on long-distance buses and rail-based long-distance transport.

Although the transport of passengers by public long-distance transport is regulated by the PBefG, many aspects of this form of transport are not specifically covered by the said regulations in a valid manner. Distance passenger transport is not subsidized by the state, leaving operators to manage entirely via self-financing. Due to the independence from regulations, the transport companies are free to decide their route networks and stops, as opposed to the public urban passenger transport, which operates on fixed routes with stipulated stops. Policy initiatives require a legal basis for the assurance of long-distance transport to ensure the political structure necessary for distance transport operations. The background is that the Deutsche Bahn AG has been reducing its long-distance range continuously since 1996.[11]

Another form of long-distance passenger transport is the German domestic air transport, which is considered only as a supplement in the present thesis. Air travel in Germany is, unlike rail and bus transport, regulated not by the PBefG but by the Air Traffic Act (Luftverkehrsgesetz, abbreviated: LuftVG).

3 Presentation of fundamentals

On 2 November 2012, the Federal Council (Bundesrat) of Germany agreed to the amendment of the PBefG, as a result of the coalition agreement between the German parties CDU/CSU and FDP. Thus, the long-distance bus services in Germany were deregulated as far as possible on 1 January 2013. Since this date, free competition in public passenger transport has been possible, and the installation, operation, and resolution of long-distance bus services have become considerably easier.[12] In the following section, the historical and legal developments of long-distance bus transportation in Germany are discussed.

3.1 Historical development of the long-distance bus transportation

The history of long-distance bus transportation in Germany goes as far back as 1 June 1905, when the first power post line (Kraftpostlinie) in Germany was established by the postal administration of the Kingdom of Bavaria between Bad Tolz and Lenggries. In addition to people, postal items were also transported on buses at this time.[13]

After the Second World War, long-distance buses in Germany became an important medium of passenger transportation and a dense network of routes was set up. In addition to the Federal Post Office with its Postbus (i.e. postal travel service that was operational from 1965), the German Bundesbahn and the German Reichsbahn also offered buses on several routes. With the advancement of motorized individual transport and the regionalization in the 1980s, the demand for long-distance buses decreased significantly. After the postal reform in 1995, only the Postbuses remained operational.[14]

3.2 Development of the legal framework

Passenger transport in Germany is based on the PBefG, which came into force on 1 April 1935 and has changed little since then. Hitherto, companies operating bus transport and passenger transport via motor vehicles were denied approval in accordance with §13 of the PBefG, because it was believed that the demand for transportation could be satisfied by the existing service providers[15]. Thus, parallel operated routes were not permitted on those routes which were sufficiently covered by the railway service.

The sole exception was the company Berlin Linien Bus GmbH. Founded in divided Germany in 1947, BerlinLinienBus GmbH provided transit transport between West Berlin and West German cities, in the absence of proper rail links. As an exemption to the rules, the company was allowed to operate a long-distance bus service in monopoly even after the reunification of Germany. Today, 65% of Berlin Linien Bus GmbH is held by Bayern Express & P. Kühn Berlin (abbreviated: BEX), which in turn is a wholly owned subsidiary of DB Fernverkehr AG.[16] In the fiscal year 2014, Berlin Linien Bus GmbH earned sales revenues to the tune of €495,000 (the revenue in 2013 was €382,000), which clearly shows that this long-established company is flourishing in the growing and open long-distance bus market.[17]

In 1990, the Monopoly and Deregulation Commission had criticized the lack of competition in the distance bus service market in Germany.[18] Since then, there have been several political attempts to amend the PBefG, such as the proposals by the FDP parliamentary group in 2004 and 2006 and by the Alliance ‘90/The Greens in 2006, to remove anti-competitive restrictions in the PBefG, particularly the requirement for authorization under §13 paragraph 2.[19] Both applications were rejected in the 200th session of the German Bundestag on 22 January 2009.[20]

To bypass the authorization requirement applicable to long-distance bus services pursuant to the PBefG, a company called Yourbus GmbH was founded via the internet portal DeinBus.de in 2009. This start-up envisaged offering long-distance bus services in the form of carpools that plied on individual demand. The company claimed that it did not require approval for regular service (Linienverkehr) since it provided occasional services (Gelegenheitsverkehr).[21] A petition by Deutsche Bahn AG for an injunction was dismissed by the Landgericht Frankfurt in April 2011.[22] After filing for insolvency in November 2014, the company has found an investor and offers approved national and cross-border long-distance bus services since the opening of the market.[23]

The first harbinger of the amendment of the PBefG and the consequent deregulation of the long-distance bus market was a judgment (Ref. 3 C 14:09 BVerwG) by the Federal Administrative Court (Bundesverwaltungsgericht) in Leipzig on 26 April 2010, which proclaimed that the clear price advantage of the proposed long-distance bus service, when compared to the existing framework of the railways, constitutes ‘a significant improvement in transport services’[24] according to the PBefG. The background to this judgement was legal action by DB Fernverkehr AG against a long-distance bus service provider who wanted to offer bus service between Frankfurt on the Main and Dortmund. DB Fernverkehr AG argued that only a more favourable fare justified a parallel transport system. The court stated that a demand for the bus service obviously existed, especially in that particular segment of the population; this was evidently not due to financial reasons, but associated with benefits in terms of speed and comfort,[25] if one goes by the strict interpretation of the PBefG, especially § 13 paragraph 2. The judgement shows that an improvement of conditions to justify the construction of competing long-distance lines may include not only a shorter travel duration but also reduction in the fare.

Based on the judgment of the Federal Administrative Court, the CDU, CSU, and FDP included in their coalition agreement of 2009, the intention to allow the long-distance bus line transport and to amend § 13 of the PBefG.[26] In August 2011, the Federal Cabinet adopted a draft submitted by the German Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer to amend the PBefG with the aim to permit new service providers to enter the long-distance bus market on their own initiative and at their own economic risk.[27] Apart from changes in the long-distance transport regulations, this bill also contained changes relating to urban transport, serving to implement the EU Regulation 1370/2007, which came into force on 3 December 2009.[28]

The Federal Council approved the amendment to the PBefG on 2 November 2012. Thus, the long-distance bus transport in Germany became deregulated on 1 January, 2013.[29] The law for the modification of transport provisions (Gesetz zur Änderung personenbeförderungsrechtlicher Vorschriften, abbreviated: PBefÄndG) came into force on 14 December 2012. The highlights of this act were the modification of §§ 8–27 and 65, and addition of §§ 8a, 8b, 30a, 42a, and 42b in the old act. The new § 42a formed the basis for the opening up of the long-distance bus market. Long-distance passenger transport, also called line motor transport, belongs neither to the category of public transport within the meaning of § 8 paragraph 1, nor to that of the special regular services in accordance with § 43.[30] The establishment of a regular service cannot be approved if the distance between any two stops on this route is not more than 50 km, or the urban rail transport operates with a travel duration of not more than one hour. The aim is to protect public transport (see Section 2.2), which is funded by the state. However, exceptions can be made if there is no adequate public transport available, or if the number of passengers availing existing transport services will be affected only slightly by the introduction of a new transport service.[31]

3.3 Current market situation

Since the legal and organizational restructuring of the state-owned railways in Germany (rail reform) in 1994, the monopoly of the federal railways has ended.[32] Apart from the urban rail transport, the long-distance rail passenger transport has also been open to competitors since then. Also, at the European level, the non-discriminatory network access for other railway companies is governed by a directive that came into force in 2001.[33] The Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur) estimates in its market investigation that, in 2012, the number of railway companies (EVU) providing long-distance transport services is less than 20, of which only 10 are active in occasional services and offer no clock transport.[34]

A rail-bound passenger transport known as the InterConnex was started between Leipzig and Warnemünde in December 2014.[35] In January 2014, the Hamburg-Köln-Express underwent tariff adjustments and converted from long-distance rail transport to urban rail transport,[36] which was earlier a monopoly of DB Fernverkehr AG as the subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn AG. Although the French state railway SNCF has repeatedly expressed interest in positioning itself in the German long-distance market, it has not yet put these plans into action.[37]

DB Fernverkehr AG has transported a total of 129 million travellers in their journeys in the past year. The staff of the DB Fernverkehr AG IC buses recorded a total of 0.5 million passengers. Together, the two business models generated a total turnover of 4.034 billion euros. Compared to the previous year, 1.2 million fewer passengers were transported, which generated revenues lower by 15 million euros. The reason, according to the Deutsche Bahn AG, was the growing competition in the long-distance bus market, the impairments caused by the strike of German train drivers union (GDL), and the storm Ela.[38]

The long-distance bus market, however, sees itself as facing enormous competition. Since the deregulation in January 2013, a number of providers added new routes. Last year, 28 providers already competed fiercely to capture the market.[39] 19.6 million passengers have travelled by a long-distance bus in 2014, corresponding to a market share of 13%. Thus, the number of long-distance bus users has doubled within a year.[40]

The graph below shows a comparison of the market shares of all long-distance bus service providers in Germany in 2014. With 129 million passengers, the Deutsche Bahn AG holds by far the largest market share in the long-distance segment, though the competition is gradually catching up.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 3.1: Passengers of long-distance rail and bus transportation in 2014 in millions[41]

While the long-distance rail passenger market is only monopolized by one company, the long-distance bus market is dominated by some large and many small service providers. The graph below shows the market shares of major long-distance bus companies in 2014.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 3.2: Market shares of the long-distance buses in Germany in 2014 [42]

However, the trend of growing market shares will not continue indefinitely for the newly founded bus service providers. In October 2014, City2city already had in place its first major vendor and set up operations.[43] ADAC exited after only one year from the project ADAC Postbus, which it was operating jointly with Deutsche Post AG. The Postbus continues to be operated by the Deutsche Post AG alone.[44] As the graph shows, MeinFernbus and Flixbus were still competitors in 2014. Between then and now, these have merged and are operating under the common brand name MeinFernbus Flixbus.[45]

In Germany, the domestic air transport market is dominated by two major airlines, namely Lufthansa (with its child company Germanwings) and Air Berlin. Last year, 22.7 million passengers made use of German domestic flights, which represents a growth of 0.7% over the previous year, and accounts for 13% of total revenue in the long-distance passenger transport industry.[46]

3.4 Environmental aspects

The environmental aspects of the introduction of so many new long-distance bus lines should not be disregarded. The comparatively low-priced long-distance bus service leads firstly to more traffic on the roads. It can also be assumed that people are taking more trips than they would otherwise have without these services. Furthermore, a shift from trains to buses can be expected due to price difference, which favours travel by bus. Both developments can have additional environmental impacts.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 3.3: Emissions from carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide in grams per passenger kilometre (g/pkm) in 2010[47]

The graph shows the greenhouse gas emissions (in grams per passenger kilometre) of long-distance passenger vehicles. The differences are due to the different types of engines and fuels, and the utilization of the respective transport modes. In particular, utilization plays a vital role in the environmental balance. The clearly visible advantage of buses as opposed to trains rests on the assumption from 2010 that coaches are, on average, filled to 60% of capacity, which is a much better utilization than the long-distance vehicles of Deutsche Bahn AG with 44% capacity.[48] In 2013, the long-distance buses had an average occupancy of 55%[49], as opposed the 50.7%[50] occupancy of the long-distance trains of Deutsche Bahn, bringing the emission of greenhouse gases in both modes of transport to almost the same level.

The nitrogen oxides and particulate pollution of the long-distance railway are recognized as being more environmentally friendly, as the graph below shows.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 3.4: Emissions of fine dust and nitrogen oxides in grams per passenger kilometre (g/pkm) in 2010[51]

In terms of fuel consumption, buses are ahead of the railway. In a study by the Federal Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt) with data from the reference year 2010, the average fuel consumption per bus passenger over a distance of a hundred kilometres, has been identified to be 1.3 litres. The equivalent value for trains is 2.1 litres. However, this study refers to coaches. Reliable empirical data for long-distance bus transport, according to the Federal Environment Agency, does not exist yet.[52]

Overall, the environmental aspects of neither modes of transport have been sufficiently studied, so an assessment of which of the two is the more environment-friendly transport is difficult. However, both the Deutsche Bahn AG and the long-distance bus companies try to draw attention through marketing activities focussing on the environment-friendliness of their products. For example, according to the owners of BahnCard, holders of monthly tickets and corporate customers travel in long-distance trains of Deutsche Bahn AG, which have been completely free from carbon dioxide emission since April 2013. The green power percentage in long-distance transport has increased from the earlier 24% to 75%. Other passengers also have the opportunity to travel CO2-free for an additional cost of one euro per person. The Deutsche Bahn AG is planning to use only renewable energy sources for all train journeys by 2050.[53] The entire campaign will be accompanied by related marketing activities. For example, conductors in the long-distance trains of Deutsche Bahn AG wore green ties and scarves for the whole of April in 2013 to draw attention to the use of renewable energy in the trains.[54]

The customers of MeinFernbus FlixBus can already calculate the greenhousegas emissions for their journey themselves during the booking-process. Then the emissions can be compensated with a supplement while buying tickets. The climate protection contribution supports projects that ultilize renewable energy or energy efficiency in developing countries. The cost of the climate balance for the customer is about 1–3% of the ticket price.[55] Similar contributions are also offered by DeinBus, Postbus, and EuroLines, among others.

Airplanes, on the other hand, are built with taillights to ensure environmental balance. With greenhouse gas emissions of 196 grams per passenger kilometre, the load is approximately four times as high as for the railways and about 6.5 times as high as for buses. According to a study by the Federal Environment Agency, an aircraft requires an average of 4.5 litres of fuel per passenger per 100 kilometres.[56] According to the statement of the German aviation industry (Deutsche Luftverkehrswirtschaft e.V.), German aviation consumes only 3.92 litres per passenger per 100 kilometres due to modernization of the fleet.[57]

4 Selected provider of long-distance transportation

This chapter begins with a discussion on selected modes of transport. For this, the economic and organizational structures of the companies are briefly discussed and compared in the context of an intermediate conclusion.

4.1 Long-distance railway companies

Because the Deutsche Bahn AG, along with its subsidiary DB Fernverkehr AG (see Section 3.3), currently has a monopoly in long-distance passenger rail transport, only this company can be used in this study for comparison.

DB Fernverkehr AG, as a railway company (Eisenbahnverkehrsunternehmen, abbreviated: EVU), provides national and international long-distance scheduled daytime services. The company's turnover was 4.034 billion euros in 2014, with 129 million travellers transported. As of 31 December.2014, the company employed 16,461 people. The entire shareholding is with DB Mobility Logistics AG, the holding company of the Deutsche Bahn Group, which is in turn wholly owned by the Federal Republic of Germany.[58] DB Fernverkehr AG has its headquarters in Frankfurt on the Main, and provides all kinds of railway services.

In addition to rail transport, DB Fernverkehr AG offers long-distance road transportation with the BerlinLinienBus, and, since 2009, also with the IC bus in Germany. The IC bus was intended to primarily serve more remote routes with little or no railway connectivity. However, the DB AG has already announced its plan to expand the long-distance bus business and to quadruple its network of routes by 2016, to counter the growing and underestimated competition from other long-distance buses.[59] Between 2013 and 2014, the DB has increased the number of customers from 0.3 million to 0.5 million.[60] Long-distance bus services are, in part, offered by regional bus companies on behalf of DB Fernverkehr AG. This does not include the IC Bus operated by DB Fernverkehr AG.

4.2 Long-distance bus companies

In the long-distance bus market, the competition, with 28 bus line operators at present, is so big that it is impossible to consider all companies.[61] Therefore only two major companies are considered, namely the MeinFernbus Flixbus and Postbus.

4.2.1 MeinFernbus Flixbus

In January 2015, the two companies MeinFernbus GmbH, headquartered in Berlin, and Flixbus GmbH, headquartered in Munich, merged to form the MeinFernbus Flixbus. Measured in kilometres travelled, MeinFernbus held 46% of the market share in early December 2014, while Flixbus had 29%. After the merger, MeinFernbus Flixbus is now the largest long-distance bus service provider and holds about half of the long-distance bus market.[62] Last year, MeinFernbus transported 7.2 million passengers while FlixBus took 3.5 million passengers to their destinations. Information on the sales revenue was not issued on request.[63] Flixbus GmbH employs 230 people, while 250 employees work at the headquarters of MeinFernbus. [64] In addition, MeinFernbus and Flixbus work together respectively with 120 and 42[65] midsize companies, who are responsible for the operations.

4.2.2 Postbus

In early 2013, the Deutsche Post AG, with its subsidiary Deutsche Post Mobility GmbH and in cooperation with the ADAC, founded a long-distance bus company under the brand name ADAC Postbus. On 1 November 2013, the buses took to the roads and made their first journey.[66] The ADAC announced its withdrawal from the project in November 2014, and the company has been operating under the brand name Postbus since April 2015. The company refused to share any information with regard to sales, number of passengers, number of employees, and number of partner companies, even on request.[67]

4.3 Airlines

To complete the comparison between various modes of long-distance passenger transport within Germany, air transport must also be briefly addressed. German domestic flights are currently offered only by Lufthansa (exclusively between Munich and Frankfurt), its low-cost subsidiary Germanwings, and Air Berlin. Based on price, currently only Germanwings and Air Berlin can compete with long-distance bus services. Therefore, only these two companies are considered.

4.3.1 Germanwings

Germanwings GmbH, headquartered in Cologne and with a home airport at Cologne/Bonn, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Deutsche Lufthansa AG. Since 2012, it has gradually taken over the domestic German and European routes of Lufthansa with a fleet size of 80 aircrafts. Only the hubs in Frankfurt and Munich are operated by Lufthansa autonomously. In 2014, over 130 million passengers were transported by Germanwings.[68] The company aims to employ 2,500 people and transport over 20 million passengers in 2015.[69] Sales figures and number of passengers in domestic air travel are not mentioned in the group’s annual report.

4.3.2 Air Berlin

Air Berlin is an airline company incorporated in April 1991, with administrative headquarters in Berlin.[70] It earned revenue of 4160.2 billion euros in 2014. A total of 31,716,202 passengers were transported during the same year, with a fleet of 149 aircrafts. As of 31 December 2014, the company had 8,440 employees on its rolls.[71]

4.4 Interim conclusion

Rail-bound passenger transport differs in many ways from regular passenger services by coach and bus. The most striking differences in this case are the nature of infrastructure and the vehicles used. While long-distance passenger transport is dependent on rails and rail vehicles, the bus companies can use the public road infrastructure of the Federal Republic. Air transport in Germany is subject to completely different legal regulations. Because of the lack of homogeneity, there cannot actually be a fair comparison between the different modes of transport. For this reason, the comparison in this study is primarily aimed only at the subjective perception of travel and selected criteria by which an average passenger makes his choice.


[1] See Wirtschaftsdienst (2012), pp. 554-562.

[2] See Springer Gabler Verlag (Ed.) (n.d.).

[3] Source: Own research, see Statistisches Bundesamt (2014a).

[4] See Personenbeförderungsgesetz (PBefG), § 8, Section 1.

[5] See Personenbeförderungsgesetz (PBefG), § 8, Section 2.

[6] Indeterminate legal concept: national task of providing necessary goods and services for the human condition - the so-called primary care.

[7] See Regionalisierungsgesetz (RegG), § 1, Section 1.

[8] See ibid., § 5.

[9] See Verband deutscher Verkehrsunternehmen (Ed.) (2008), pp. 2-7.

[10] See Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft Schienenpersonennahverkehr (2015).

[11] See Landesregierung Rheinland-Pfalz (2015).

[12] See Bundesministerium für Verkehr und digitale Infrastruktur (2012).

[13] See Wikimedia Foundation Inc. (2015a).

[14] See Wikimedia Foundation Inc. (2015b).

[15] See Personenbeförderungsgesetz (PBefG), § 13, Section 2, s. 3a.

[16] See Berlin Linien Bus GmbH (2014).

[17] See ibid.

[18] Laaser (1991), pp. 111-121.

[19] See Request of the FDP parliamentary group (2004), Document 15/3953; Request of the FDP parliamentary group (2006), Document 16/384; Request of Buendnis 90 / Die Gruenen, Document 16/842.

[20] See Omnibusrevue (2009).

[21] See DeinBus (2015).

[22] See Sueddeutsche Zeitung (2011).

[23] See Handelsblatt (2014).

[24] See Personenbeförderungsgesetz (PBefG), § 13, Section 2, s. 3b.

[25] See Bundesverwaltungsgericht (2010).

[26] See CDU et. al. (2009), p. 37.

[27] See Bundesministerium für Verkehr und digitale Infrastruktur (2011).

[28] See Document 17/8233 of November 21, 2011, Deutscher Bundestag, see Regulation of the European Union, Document 1370/2007 of December 03, 2009.

[29] See Bundesministerium für Verkehr und digitale Infrastruktur (2012).

[30] See Personenbeförderungsgesetz (PBefG), § 42a.

[31] See ibid.

[32] See Eisenbahnneuordnungsgesetz (ENeuOG).

[33] See Guideline of the European Union, Document 2001/14/EG of February 26, 2001.

[34] See Bundesnetzagentur (2012), p. 11.

[35] See Allianz pro Schiene (2014).

[36] See Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (2014).

[37] See Eurailpress (2010).

[38] See Deutsche Bahn AG (2015a).

[39] See IGES (2014).

[40] See CheckMyBus GmbH (2015).

[41] Source: Own research, see Statistisches Bundesamt (2015a).

[42] Source: Own research, see CheckMyBus GmbH (2015).

[43] See Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (2014).

[44] See Die Welt (2014).

[45] See Handelsblatt (2015).

[46] See Statistisches Bundesamt (2015b).

[47] Source: Own research, see Umweltbundesamt (Ed.) (2012), p. 32.

[48] Source: Own research, see Umweltbundesamt (Ed.) (2012), p. 32

[49] See Statistisches Bundesamt (2014b).

[50] See Deutsche Bahn AG (2015a).

[51] Source: Own research, see Umweltbundesamt (Ed.) (2012), p. 32.

[52] See Umweltbundesamt (2014).

[53] See Deutsche Bahn AG (2015b).

[54] See n-tv (2013).

[55] See MEINFERNBUS (2014).

[56] See Umweltbundesamt (2014).

[57] See Bundesverband der Deutschen Luftverkehrswirtschaft e.V. (2015), Appendix III [Not included for copyright reasons.].

[58] See Deutsche Bahn AG (2015a).

[59] See Spiegel Online (2015), see Deutsche Bahn AG (2015d).

[60] See Deutsche Bahn AG (2015a).

[61] See IGES (2014).

[62] See Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (2015).

[63] See Email to MEINFERNBUS from March 01, 2015, Appendix II [Not included for copyright reasons.].

[64] See ibid.

[65] See Flixbus (2015).

[66] See ibid.

[67] See Email to Postbus from March 01, 2015, Appendix III [Not included for copyright reasons.].

[68] See Germanwings (2015), Appendix IV.

[69] See ibid.

[70] See Air Berlin (2015a).

[71] See Air Berlin (2015b).


ISBN (eBook)
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University of applied sciences Dortmund
swot benchmarking fernbus fernbusmarkt personenbeförderungsgesetz fernbusse fernverkehr long-distance rail competitive analysis railway deregulation liberalisierung



Title: A Competitive Analysis between Long-distance Bus and Long-distance Rail Transportation after Deregulation of the Long-haul Transportation Market in Germany