Train in Pain

Deutsche Bahn Needs New Ideas

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    If Deutsche Bahn doesn’t upgrade its offerings to match newcomers on the mobility market it could be fast surpassed by new providers.

  • Facts


    • Deutsche Bahn’s CFO, Richard Lutz, is currently acting CEO and likely to take the helm permanently.
    • Former CEO Rüdiger Grube, who had led Deutsche Bahn since 2009, but resigned suddenly late January after clashing with the supervisory board about the extension of his contract.
    • State-owned Deutsche Bahn is a financial liability to taxpayers as it needs to invest €4 billion annually to modernize its network outdated signalling technology and obsolete rolling stock but lacks the cash flow.
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DB Carsharing Flinkster
Deutsche Bahn's “Call a Bike” bicycles in German cities and offers its own rental cars with Flinkster. Source: Wolfgang Kumm/DPA [M].

Richard Lutz, who in a surprise move was named head of Deutsche Bahn, knows what rail travel in Germany truly costs.

For many years the company’s financial chief, he can easily calculate the consequences of calls for an “affordable citizens’ railway,” synchronized timetables between commuter trains and long-distance lines or comprehensive freight transport. Here we’re talking hundreds of millions, or even billions of euros.

Mr. Lutz’s familiarity with the figures distinguishes him from rivals for the top post at Deutsche Bahn, if indeed the shortlist included any competitors in what was a hasty selection process.

Now, the question is whether such financial expertise will help him in day-to-day operations.

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