GERMAN rail passenger numbers grew in 2023, but remain below pre-pandemic levels, according to data issued by the German Federal Statistical Office (Destatis). Annual public transport usage, including long-distance and commuter rail, coaches, buses and light rail, rose by 7% in 2023 to 10.9 billion passengers.

Numbers last year are likely to have been boosted by the €49 Deutschlandticket that was introduced in May, but, overall, there were still around 8% fewer passenger journeys in 2023 than in 2019.

The Deutschlandticket, that permits unlimited travel for a month on regional and local transport, has had a noticeable impact, with ridership growth evident in the third and fourth quarters of 2023. Passenger numbers on local and regional rail, plus light rail and metro services, all of which are covered by the discounted ticket, grew by 9% overall in 2023, although total numbers are still 9% lower than in 2019.

Long-distance rail passengers totalled 148 million, a 7% increase on 2022, but 5% less than in 2019. The majority of these passengers were carried by German Rail (DB) Long Distance.

In the competing long-distance coach segment, passenger numbers were 10.4 million, 39% higher than in the previous year, but only around half the number recorded in 2019. This suggests long-distance coach operators have not reintroduced all the services they operated before  the Covid-19 pandemic. In fact, market leader Flixbus’ parent company has introduced additional Flixtrain services on some routes, simultaneously reducing coach capacity.