DB Netze Track business unit
BNetzA approves train-path prices for 2021
BNetzA approved the fees for the 2021 train-path pricing system (TPS) with its decision of March 31, 2020. Contrary to the proposal of DB Netz AG, DB NetzA decided to further increase the charges on regional rail passenger transport routes while reducing the charges for long-distance and freight transport. The background to this decision is the amendment to the Regionalization Act, which came into force retroactively from January 1, 2020. The amendment to this act provides for an increase in funding for regional rail transport. As the changes in train-path prices for regional rail passenger transport are linked to the indexing rate for regionalization funds in accordance with Section 37 (2) ERegG and total revenues are also limited, the increase in funding has a direct impact on the charges for all kinds of transport.
At the same time, however, BNetzA included a proviso of cancelation in its decision to cover the event of an amendment to the Railway Regulation Act. Such an amendment to the act was passed by the Federal Government in June 2020, with retroactive effect from January 1, 2020. This determines the increase of train-path and station prices for regional rail passenger transport at 1.8% per year, irrespective of the actual development of regionalization funds. A change in the approval of fees, including the rescission by BNetzA of the postponements described, is therefore to be expected.
Irrespective of this, as it did in its decisions on the TPS 2018, TPS 2019 and TPS 2020, BNetzA has raised the train-path prices originally proposed in most segments of long-distance passenger rail transport in the wake of the approval, and lowered them for standard freight transport trains. DB Netz AG had filed a complaint against this decision in previous years. However, a final legally binding judgment based on a possible multiple-instance decision of the dispute in question is not anticipated in the near future. The legal uncertainty that is therefore likely to persist for an unforeseeable period of time carries the risk that capital expenditures in freight transport will be deferred or growth opportunities will not be realized. Against this background, DB Netz AG has decided to withdraw the existing demands for relief and not to file any further lawsuit against the amendment within the framework of the TPS 2021.
BNetzA sets maximum limit on total costs for the network schedule period 2020/2021
In a decision on March 25, 2020, as part of regulating the incentivization of train-path prices, the BNetzA set the maximum limits for total costs of DB Netz AG and DB RegioNetz Infrastruktur GmbH, for the network schedule period 2020/2021, at about € 5.5 billion. The recognition of LuFV III as a qualified regulatory agreement has allowed the upper limit to be raised from that set in the decision of July 22, 2019, as maintenance expenses induced by the LuFV are now also taken into account.
Incentive system approved by BNetzA for rail freight transport
The incentive system has been in place since June 2019 to minimize disruptions and to increase the performance of rail passenger transport. With the decision on the TPS 2021 taken in March 2020, BNetzA has now also approved the introduction of the system in freight transport with effect from December 13, 2020. In contrast to the previous provisions, considerably higher payments are due, among other things, in the event of delays due to construction sites. The incentive system in rail freight transport also provides for differentiation between punctual and non-punctual services. The classification must be indicated by the freight transport train operating companies when reserving train-path and has an effect on the level of incentive fees or threshold values.