Since 2015, prices for passenger transport by sea, local transport, road, and international air travel have each risen by more than 20 percent.
This is the result of an analysis by the Federal Statistical Office, which has examined the price development in passenger transport in Germany over the past six years. As the graph shows, one mode of transportation, in particular, is significantly more affordable today than before the pandemic.
While rail travel prices in long-distance travel were around four percent higher than the 2015 level in 2019, traveling by long-distance train was about twelve percent cheaper than in the base year during the first year of the pandemic. Compared to nearly all other modes of transportation, the corresponding prices continued to decrease in 2021 and 2022, now being 15 percent lower than the 2015 level. Another notable decrease occurred in regional rail transport last year, likely due to the temporary introduction of the 9-euro ticket.
One factor that likely contributed to the low-price level in long-distance rail travel is the introduction of the Super Saver fare by Deutsche Bahn in August 2018. On January 1, 2020, the price structure of discounted long-distance tickets was adjusted again. Changes in the index value can be expected in local transport this year: In May 2023, the Germany Ticket was introduced at a price of 49 euros. According to official information, the ticket was sold around ten million times at the initial price of 49 euros in the first month.
Railway improvements needed in Germany
While train travel is becoming increasingly affordable in Germany, for many travellers, the level of delays and other disruptions when traveling by train remains a drawback. This is in part due to the poor rail infrastructure in comparison to other European countries.
In 2021, the federal government invested around 124 euros per capita in the rail infrastructure. This is indicated by a recent infographic from Statista. Despite efforts to expand public transportation services and shift more freight transport to the rail network to promote the transition to more sustainable transportation, Germany's performance in comparison to other European countries remains relatively unfavourable.
An evaluation by the interest group "Allianz pro Schiene" reveals that Luxembourg leads with investments of 607 euros per capita, surpassing countries like Switzerland, Norway, or Austria. Notably, countries with lower population densities tend to occupy the top positions. In states with similar populations to Germany, investments are sometimes notably lower. For instance, France, with its 66 million inhabitants, ranks at the bottom with an investment of 45 euros per capita, as analysed by "Allianz pro Schiene." On the other hand, the UK, with around 68 million inhabitants, significantly exceeds Germany with 158 euros per capita.
Despite relatively low per capita investments, the federal government's investment activity in rail projects has significantly increased over the past ten years. In 2011, the invested amount per inhabitant was approximately 56 euros. However, the expansion of the rail network is progressing slowly. In March, the Federal Commissioner for Rail Transport, State Secretary Michael Theurer, announced that the flagship project "Deutschlandtakt," introduced in 2018, is now expected to be fully implemented by around 2070, not 2030 as initially planned. The realization of a unified clock-based schedule, similar to Switzerland's model, where long-distance trains operate at the same time either in a 60-minute or 30-minute interval, is estimated to cost 50 to 60 billion euros.