CEO Dr Rüdiger Grube set out the process that DB will implement to "renew itself," by first "cleaning" the company of unnecessary management and business structures and from 2016 focussing on both train punctuality and service quality.
In the longer-term, digital innovation and systems are seen by DB as instrumental in both improving operation and customer satisfaction. The long-term planning and implementation will be led by DB board member Dr Volker Kefer under the Future Railway programme.
Contrary to expectations, DB has not announced part-privatisation of either international passenger business DB Arriva or logistics business DB Schenker Logistics, and both will remain wholly-owned subsidiaries of the DB group.
Restructuring costs in 2015 and 2016 will total €2bn more than half of which will be spent on restructuring and simplification of the railfreight business.
DB says it will invest €55bn in the period 2016 to 2021. Of this amount €50bn will be spent within Germany and €40bn will be allocated to infrastructure. DB will fund €20bn of the investment (mostly on new trains) using its own cash.
Much of DB's long list of specific actions are aimed at the long-distance business which has suffered from a mix of long-distance bus competition, poor reliability of both trains and infrastructure, and the impact of multiple days lost to strikes earlier this year.
DB previously announced plans to upgrade and expand its ICE and Intercity network over the next two decades. The focus over the next four years will be on improving reliability in this sector, setting rather modest targets for 80% of long-distance trains to arrive on time by the of end next year, increasing to 85% by the end of 2020. However, traditional overnight services will be eliminated by December 2016.
Investment is planned in electronic systems to better inform passengers and DB staff of operational changes to services and ensuring facilities meet passenger requirements.
Mobile maintenance teams will be used much more to ensure defective rolling stock remains in traffic rather than being taken out of use. There will be a specific focus on areas that are prime causes of customer dissatisfaction such as defective toilets and catering equipment, as well as basic safety and reliability issues for the trains themselves.
In the longer-term, DB's envisages a digitally connected railway with both operating activities and enhancing the interface with customers via the creation of the biggest mobile WLAN network in Germany by 2020.
DB says this network will enable:
- installation of digital monitoring for points to detect and predict failures enabling a move to predictive maintenance, with similar systems planned for lifts and escalators in stations
- creation of apps for passengers and staff to improve information provision
- onboard passenger entertainment such as films, initially on ICE services via an enhanced "ICE portal," and
- investment in stations.
DB has also announced plans to upgrade 31 heavily-used underground S-Bahn stations in Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Munich and Hamburg, many of which have not been refurbished in the last 40 years.
Between 2016 and 2030 DB, in conjunction with state governments, intends to build 350 new stations on existing lines around Germany, bringing an extra 2 million people within easy reach of rail services
Major changes are also planned for the railfreight business both in Germany and elsewhere in Europe. DB says it intends to radically simplify the production process thus removing scope for failure. Most existing traffic will be handled via a simpler pre-scheduled network but it will still be possible to run one-off trains. However, critics including state governments in Germany have warned that over 500 freight terminals could close as part of this process.
DB says it is committed to its European freight network and is looking to achieve growth from 2018.