Figures from the federal statistical office: rail travel more expensive, flying cheaper

Unecological pricing policy: The cost of long-distance bus and rail tickets has risen. Flying domestically, on the other hand, has become cheaper.

Much too expensive, despite VAT reduction: tickets of Deutsche Bahn Photo: dpa

Traveling by train within Germany has become more expensive in recent years, but prices for domestic flights have fallen. That is according to figures published by the Federal Statistical Office on Friday.

According to the figures, long-distance rail ticket prices rose by 1.3 percent between November 2015 and November 2019. According to a study by the German Transport Club, the cost of tickets is far too high from the customers’ point of view anyway. Prices on Deutsche Bahn’s local services – which are the DB Regio products – climbed by as much as 14 percent. Domestic flights, on the other hand, became cheaper. Travelers paid almost 3 percent less over the same period.

Other means of transport, which are much more climate-friendly than air travel, have also become more expensive: Trips by long-distance bus cost 15.4 percent more last November than three years ago, according to the statisticians. "Consumer prices as a whole increased by 5.6 percent in the same period," the Federal Statistical Office reported. Prices for tickets in transport associations also rose at an above-average rate, increasing by 8.1 percent.

In local transport, prices will continue to rise in the coming year. In long-distance transport, however, tickets will become cheaper as a result of the reduction in VAT from 19 to 7 percent on tickets from 2020. This is part of the climate pact agreed by the German government in the fall. The reduced VAT rate already applies to local transport.

Prices do not reflect costs

"The reduction in value-added tax for long-distance rail transport is merely an intermediate step toward creating more competitive equity between air and rail," says Dirk Flege, managing director of the Pro-Rail Alliance organization, which brings together 24 associations and more than 150 companies from the rail industry. The aim must be to ensure that the polluters actually pay for all the costs they generate. The current prices do not come close to reflecting the costs that arise from climate pollution, for example.

The Board of Management of Deutsche Bahn assumes that the reduction of VAT in long-distance transport will increase the number of passengers by 5 million per year. According to the German Federal Statistical Office, the number of rail passengers has already risen significantly over the past three years: In 2018, almost 133 million people took the train for long journeys. That was almost 14 percent more than in 2015.

Domestic passenger numbers also increased for flights and long-distance bus services. The number of travelers who flew within Germany rose from 23 to 24 million at the main airports between 20. There were 1 million more passengers traveling by long-distance bus. Here, the number grew from 16 to 17 million.

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