Fri May 28th, 2010 at 02:28:53 PM EST
Spiegel has posted an interview with Rüdiger Grube, the CEO of Deutsche Bahn, 'I Never Thought the Job Would Be Easy'. Here are some points from the interview that I found interesting.
DB's goal is to run the trains 90% on time.
1 million is being spent to overhaul the coffee machines on ICE trains.
DB needs up to "up to 300 new trains for long-distance rail travel", an order they estimate to be worth 5 billion.
DB is trying to buy Arriva, the British transport operator, for 2.7 billion.
DB is investing 41 billion on German rail over the next 5 years.
DB is 15 billion in debt.
Also, Grube thinks French and British operators are blocking the DB from running ICE trains to London via the Channel Tunnel.
SPIEGEL: Is it possible to concieve -- from an industrial policy perspective --that the head of state-owned Deutsche Bahn would spend billions on trains made in France or Japan?
Grube: Why not? Of course it would be really sensible if every stakeholder managed to achieve a truly European rail system -- with the same standards, the same requirements for entry, the same competitive conditions. According to our research, there are around 1.2 million people in greater Cologne who would like to travel to London by train at some stage. But we cannot get our ICE trains into the Eurotunnel because the operators in France and England block that stretch of rail with the TGV trains. The ICEs are permitted to travel through every Alpine tunnel -- but, funnily enough, they're not allowed through the Eurotunnel.
SPIEGEL: But Paris can't keep you away from there ...
Grube: The conditions for entry to the tunnel are so absurd that only the French trains fulfill them. They say, for example, that the train must be 400 meters long.
SPIEGEL: Why don't you just couple two ICEs together?
Grube: But then there's another rule: The passengers have to be able to walk the full length of the train. So it wouldn't work. It's absurd! Of course new laws are always being thought up to liberalize Europe, but they're never implemented. France doesn't even have a competition authority where we could take our complaints. It's plainly discrimination. That is no way to grow.
In December 2009, the Eurotunnel group granted approval to DB for ICE trains to go through the Channel Tunnel.
Lastly, Grube seems not to be a proponent of further DB privatization.
SPIEGEL: Political leaders have accused you, as they accused your predecessor, of doing too little for Deutsche Bahn itself. What do you say to the Free Democrats, for instance, who still want to separate the rail network from rail infrastructure management?
Grube: I'm a firm believer in competition. But an integrated Deutsche Bahn simply makes sense. If we were to privatize the German rail network like they did in Britain, I would not continue as head of Deutsche Bahn.
Postscript: the article also noted Deutsche Bahn celebrated the 175th birthday of railways in Germany on May 11, 2010.
In 175 years, Germany went from the Stephenson-built Adler (here in replica) traveling at 33.7 km/hr over the 6.04 km-long Königlich privilegirte Ludwigs-Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft.
To trains like the Siemens-built ICE 3 traveling up to 300 km/hr over the electrified parts of DB's 33,721 km system throughout Germany and across Europe.
Not bad for 175 years.