In early 2014 the Bundeskartellamt initiated proceedings against DB on the suspicion that it had abused its dominant position in the sale of train tickets in Germany, and this has now been completed.
"Competition in the rail sector depends on competition in sales, ie beginning with the sale of rail tickets," says Bundeskartellamt president Mr Andreas Mundt. "We initiated a proceeding in order to end DB's obstructive practices in impeding its competitors' ticket sales.
"DB has now offered extensive commitments which make it much easier for its competitors to sell tickets. For example, it will now allow them to sell their tickets in future in railway station shops. There will no longer be any rental contract clauses which have so far hindered this. This will give competition in rail services new impetus."
DB has made four key commitments to the Bundeskartellamt.
Commission charges paid by DB and its competitors for the reciprocal sale of tickets will be standardised and reduced. Up to now, DB has paid its competitors a lower rate of commission for ticket sale services on behalf of DB than it has charged its competitors for its own ticket sale services.
Regional rail operators in future will be allowed to sell long-distance DB rail tickets from their ticket machines. "This is particularly relevant for travellers at railway stations at which DB no longer stops and where those travellers have not been able to buy long-distance rail tickets," the Bundeskartellamt says.
DB's competitors will have easier access to sell passenger tickets in railway station shops. "Up to now rental contracts for railway station shops contained clauses which made it virtually impossible for third parties to sell tickets," the Bundeskartellamt says. "This meant that this comparably low-cost alternative channel for selling tickets via staff at railway stations was not available to competitors."
In future competitors will have more freedom to organise their own ticket sales. "Railway companies are obliged by law to cooperate with one another in setting tariffs and consequently in selling tickets but not as extensively as previously practised," the Bundeskartellamt explains.