Regulatory environment

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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 (Bundesnetzagentur; 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 and service facilities are the Art. 10 and 11 of the ERegG. Based on this, the operators of railway infrastructure and service facilities are obligated to provide railway transport companies 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 and service facilities.

Regulating infrastructure fees 

The BNetzA is also responsible for the regulation infrastructure fees in Germany. The rail operator's fees are subject to efficiency-oriented incentive regulation. For other fees, the scale of the cost of the service provision plus a reasonable profit applies. Furthermore, the charges for the use of the rail infrastructure must apply to all users on a non-discriminatory basis. Any intended recast or amendment of the fee principles and fee increases must in principle be examined in advance by the BNetzA and, in the case of rail infrastructure and passenger stations, formally approved. In addition, the authority can inspect the applicable charging provisions for conformity with the law at any time on its own initiative.

Regulations regarding corporate structure/organization

The operators of railway facilities and service facilities are subject to special organisational regulations in Germany. Sections 7, 8ff. and 12 ERegG contain far-reaching specifications for the structure of the railways with regard to the relationship between railway transport companies and rail infrastructure companies (so-called unbundling). The regulations serve, among other things, organiser and accounting separation. In particular with regard to decisions on the allocation of infrastructure capacity and the infrastructure charges levied for this, the charges for the use of passenger platforms as well as with regard to traffic management, maintenance planning and structural planning, more extensive regulations on the functional independence of the operators of railway facilities as well as on impartiality must also be observed.

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