Capital expenditures and public sector grants

DB Group is one of the largest investors in Germany. Since 1994 we have invested over € 187 billion.

The focus of our capital expenditure activities are on measures to improve performance and efficiency in the area of rail infrastructure and on rejuvenating our vehicle fleet. The structure of gross capital expenditure has shifted slightly in favour of freight transport and logistics, mainly as a result of higher capital expenditures in locomotives at DB Cargo.

By investing in future-oriented mobility, we are making a contribution to strengthening Germany as a business location.

Infrasturcture Capital Expenditures

According to Art. 87e (4) of the Basic Law, the Federal Republic of Germany (Federal Government) guarantees that “in the expansion and maintenance of the rail network [...] the common good is to be taken into account.” The Federal Government fulfills this infrastructure mandate by making funds available for capital expenditures. The legal basis is the German Railway Foundation Act and the Federal Rail Infrastructure Expansion Act. The funds are generally granted as non-repayable investment grants. We also invest a considerable amount of DB funds.

Investment grants are provided for the acquisition or manufacture of property, plant and equipment.

Below you will find essential information on the various forms of funding and on measures to ensure that these public sector funds are used in accordance with the law.

Investment Grants

Recognition of investment grants in the consolidated financial statements

Investment grants account for by far the largest share of public funds received by DB Group’s infrastructure division. The DB Netze Track business unit (€ 6.0 billion) accounts for the largest share, followed by DB Netze Stations (€ 0.6 billion) and DB Netze Energy (€ 0.1 billion). In DB Group’s accounting system, investment grants are generally deducted from acquisition or manufacturing costs (AMC) on the assets side after completion of the relevant investment. As a result, the investment is recognized at a reduced carrying amount and depreciation is reduced accordingly. The grant thus reduces the operating result over the entire useful life of the investment and is therefore also referred to as a grant with no impact on profit and loss.

In the consolidated financial statements, all investments made in a financial year are shown both at their gross value, i.e. before grants are deducted from assets, and at their net value. In addition, the statement of cash-flows shows the receipts of payment from grants received. This also applies to repayments if the funds or the investments supported by them have not been used in full for the intended purpose. On the one hand, this makes it completely transparent which public sector funds have been collected. On the other hand, the net accounting of investment grants automatically excludes the possibility of an impermissible interest rate request on the publicly financed part of the infrastructure. The capital employed, which forms the basis for calculating the target return, only reflects the net investments financed from DB Group’s own funds.


Providers of grants and main features of the application and use review

The Federal Republic of Germany (Federal Government) is by far the most important provider of grants due to its responsibilities under the Basic Law. At € 5.9 billion, around 82 % of all investment grants in 2018 were provided by the Federal Government. The remaining funds came from the federal states and municipalities (€ 0.9 billion, 12 %), the EU (€ 0.4 billion, 6 %) and other grant providers (< € 0.1 billion, <1 %).

In principle, all public authorities impose strict conditions on the provision of investment grants which ensure that the funds are used in full and for their intended purpose and thus exclude any unauthorized misappropriation or transfer to third parties. In the case of Federal funds, two basic procedures can be distinguished to ensure that these requirements are met.

  • First, grants for the financing of new construction and expansion measures are provided within the framework of a funding application and call procedure. For each project, a specific definition is established which determines what measures are to be funded and to what extent. This is based on general, detailed specifications on the eligibility for grants of individual types of investments or issues. The payment of a construction and planning cost grant always takes place only by a call for funds, in the context of which the release of funds and the outflow of funds for the measure in question must be proven. This means that the project is permanently monitored. The responsible authority is the Federal Railway Authority (Eisenbahn-Bundesamt; EBA). In addition to this preliminary check, the EBA carries out a use review at document level on a sample basis. If it is established that the subsidized investments are not being used for their intended purpose or in accordance with the contract, the funds must be repaid pro rata. This may be the case, for example, if an investment is shut down or sold before the end of its useful life or if award guidelines (e.g. Europe-wide tender) have not been observed. The EBA has documented in detail in a handbook of around 1,300 pages which specifications the subsidized companies have to meet within the framework of this application and use review. The regulations also apply in the case of subsidies under the Municipal Transport Financing Act (Gemeindeverkehrsfinanzierungsgesetz; GVFG) and the Railway Crossings Act (Eisenbahnkreuzungsgesetz; EKrG), although specific special regulations may also apply. Since January 1, 2018, the requirement plan implementation agreement (Bedarfsplanumsetzungsvereinbarung; BUV) has provided a new financing framework for the part of the new construction and expansion measures that are part of the rail requirement plan drawn up as part of the Federal Transport Infrastructure Plan (Bundesverkehrswegeplanung). New regulations in the BUV include the assumption of planning costs, greater citizen participation and greater political transparency. The entire process of application and use verification should be significantly accelerated and simplified by a closer and early involvement of the EBA. On the other hand, the procedural steps from the call for funds to usage review remain basically the same under the BUV.
  • Secondly, with the performance and financing agreement (Leistungs- und Finanzierungsvereinbarung; LuFV), a multi-year contract for the financing of existing network investments was created starting in 2009, which regulates the payment of investment grants in the form of fixed, monthly installments. There is no need for an advance application to be made for each measure. However, there are also precise guidelines and control mechanisms for the use of funds in the case of the LuFV. For each asset class, it is determined whether and to what extent it is eligible for grants. Under this condition, infrastructure companies may have the funds allocated to them to finance various existing network capital expenditures. They must document the contractual use of the LuFV funds received in an annual infrastructure status report (Infrastruktur-Zustandsbericht; IZB). Here too, the EBA is the competent supervisory authority, which also publishes the currently valid version of the LuFV and the IZB on its website. In addition, an auditor commissioned by the Federal Government carries out a retrospective sample review to ensure that the funds are used in accordance with the contract. As a result of these audits, as with the expansion and new construction measures, it may also occur in the case of existing network investments that subsidies have to be partially repaid.

The conditions for the application and use review of investment grants from other grant providers (except the Federal Government) are determined by the provider in each case. However, the basic features correspond to those of the Federal Government’s funding application and call procedure described above. Here, too, monitoring is often the responsibility of the EBA, for example in the case of the GVFG funds, in addition to which further bodies designated by the respective grant providers may be active. The European Union grants joint subsidies to DB Group upon special request and subject to certain documentation requirements. In the case of EU funding, monitoring is carried out by the Executive Agency for Innovation and Networks.

The European and national requirements of the railway regulation comprise further regulations which also include the monitoring of the use of public funds. In Germany, these are above all the unbundling requirements laid down in the Railway Regulation Act (Eisenbahn-Regulierungsgesetz; ERegG) (Article 7 ff. ERegG), but indirectly also the requirements for fee regulation (§§ 23 ff. ERegG), the monitoring of which is the responsibility of the Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur; BNetzA).

Of particular relevance here is Article 7 ERegG on separate accounting and the ban on reconciliation of public funds laid down in paragraphs 3 to 5. These clarify that the general obligation to keep separate accounts for railway infrastructure, rail transport and other areas within DB Group also includes the recording of public sector grants. The corresponding separation of accounts and the preparation of annual financial statements (at least balance sheet and statement of income) must also make it clear that public funds received by one of these activities are not transferred to the others.

In monitoring these rules, the BNetzA ensures, among other things, that investment grants are deducted from assets in accordance with these unbundling rules and that all grants received are allocated to the correct areas of activity. The monitoring of the ban on reconciliation also includes checking the appropriateness of internal cost allocation and the regulations on profit and loss transfers.

As part of the regulation of access charges (prices for the use of train-paths, stations, the traction current grid and other service facilities), the BNetzA checks whether subsidies granted to promote one of these areas are actually posted there and deducted from the regulated cost basis in such a way that they benefit infrastructure users.

The latter is automatically guaranteed in the case of investment subsidies recorded on the balance sheet on the basis of the net accounting described. In addition, the infrastructure divisions also receive grants in smaller amounts that are recorded in income (2017: € 0.2 billion). As a rule, these are closely related to construction measures, but cannot be capitalized. Such grants are recognized as other revenue and disclosed separately in the annual reports. The BNetzA ensures that these revenues, together with the associated costs, are always allocated and netted appropriately and uniformly in the same division and are thus taken into account in the cost basis for the charges to reduce costs.

Federal Government

(1) LuFV
The performance and financing agreement (LuFV) between the Federal Government and the rail infrastructure companies concerns the maintenance and financing of railway lines. On the basis of this agreement, only earmarked payments for the implementation of replacement capital expenditures in railway lines (Article 11 (1), Article 8 (1) BSWAG), so-called infrastructure contributions, are made by the Federal Government. The so-called LuFV I was valid for the period 2009 to 2014 and was replaced on January 1, 2015 by LuFV II, which was renegotiated with the Federal Government. It should be noted that the measures undertaken within the framework of the LuFV are not always pure replacement capital expenditures, but that the facility renewals carried out using them may include expansion and new construction elements.

(2) Federal Rail Infrastructure Extension Act (Bundesschienenwegeausbaugesetz; BSWAG)
The traditional subsidies from the Federal Government according to Article 8 of the Federal Rail Infrastructure Extension Act (BSWAG) are granted here for capital expenditures in the new construction or expansion of lines or for replacement capital expenditures in existing rail lines of the Federal Government that are not financed via the LuFV. The annex to Article 1 BSWAG contains the individual projects included for implementation in the “Requirement Plan for the Federal Rail Infrastructure Extension” in coordination with the Federal Transport Infrastructure Plan (Bundesverkehrswegeplan; BVWP).

(3) Noise remediation
The Federal Government grants subsidies for “measures for noise remediation on existing rail lines of the railways of the Federal Government.” Subsidies for active sound insulation (capital expenditure = sound barriers) are sufficient if the noise level exceeds certain immission values.

(4) Municipal Transport Financing Act (Gemeindeverkehrsfinanzierungsgesetz; GVFG)
These federal subsidies relate to  grants for expansion and new construction expenditures by DB to improve the traffic conditions of municipalities in accordance with Section 11 of the Municipal Transport Financing Act and amount to up to 60 % of grant-eligible costs. In this context, expansion and new construction projects for local rail passenger transport  amounting to more than 50 million euros are subsidised, which are located in densely populated areas or in associated peripheral areas.

Federal States/Municipalities

(1)   Municipal Transport Financing Act (GVFG)
Subsidies under the Municipal Transport Financing Act (GVFG) are granted by the authorities of the federal states in addition to federal funding in the amount of up to 40 % of the approved costs for “capital expenditures to improve the transport conditions of the municipalities” within the meaning of Article 1 GVFG. In addition, a plan lump sum of 7 % of the total grant-eligible costs is paid. However, rates that deviate from this may also be agreed bilaterally with the federal states.

(2)   Other
The other grants from the federal states/municipalities come both from the regionalization funds and from the general budgets of the federal states and the municipalities.


(1)   CEF
The most important funding program of the EU is the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). It is the follow-up program to the previous financing of the trans-European networks (TEN-T). As part of the grant financing with CEF funds, the advance and interim payments are made to INEA in the form of reports or applications by the recipients – in this case the BMVI. The application must confirm that the costs claimed have actually been incurred and relate to the benefits to be attributed to the eligible elements of the grant agreement (CEF Grant Agreement). This must be certified by the EBA as an independent review body.

In addition to TEN funds, grants are awarded for the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS) and the European Train Control System (ETCS).

(2)   TEN
Funding program that distributes grants for trans-European networks (TEN funds). Follow-up program: CEF.


Grants from other third parties relate to non-government capital expenditures, for example from private individuals or companies (partnerships or corporations) for capital expenditure measures in property, plant and equipment