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As an owner and largest user of the rail infrastructure in Germany, the DB Group operates within a strict regulated environment.

The primary institution responsible for regulating the railway sector in Germany are the Federal Network Agency for Electricity, Gas, Telecommunications, Post and Railway (BNetzA).

German railway law has four central elements:

Responsibilities and powers of the authorities

The BNetzA is responsible for regulating access to the railway infrastructure and for monitoring compliance with requirements regarding the separation of infrastructure and transport services. To enforce its Railway Regulation Act (ERegG) defined tasks, the BNetzA has substantial examination and decision-making skills.

Regulating access to the infrastructure

The central norms defining access to railway infrastructure, train paths and service facilities are the Art. 10 and 11 of the ERegG. Based on this, the operators of railway infrastructure, train paths and service facilities are obligated to provide railway transport companies (EVU) reasonable, non-discriminatory usage of the railway infrastructure as well as provision of the services the offer with transparent conditions.

The BNetzA is responsible for ensuring this access to the railway infrastructure. These responsibility include checking the usage and access conditions of the operators of railway infrastructure, train paths and service facilities.

Regulating infrastructure fees 

The BNetzA is also responsible for regulating infrastructure fees in Germany. It monitors the access charges for the use of railway infrastructure apply to all users equally and and that its amount is appropriate, hence do not lead to excessive profits. Public-sector EIUs are obligated to submit in advance Every planned new version or revision of fee principles and fee increases for the use of railway infrastructure, train path or service facilities have to be reviewed by the BNetzA. In case of rail infrastructure and passenger stations it has to be formally approved by BNetzA.  In addition, the Authority may at any time conduct a review, on its own initiative, of the applicable rates and charges on compliance.

Regulations regarding corporate structure/organization

Operators of railway infrastructure, train path or service facilities in Germany are subject to special legal requirements regarding their organizational structure. Articles 7,8 and 12 of the ERegG, contain far-reaching guidelines regarding railway structures in terms of the relationship between EVU and railway infrastructure companies (unbundling). The regulations are mainly for separating the organizational and accounting terms from each other. In particular, in decisions on the allocation of railway infrastructure capacity and infrastructure charging, additionally further regulations for the functional independence of the operator of the railways have to be applied.