drapeau GERMANY - Train+ Bike

Key figures: 


• 82 million people, 380 000 km2 

• The rail network, which is quite dense, has 36 000 kilometers of lines. 

• The historical operator (Deutsche Bahn, DB) in 2006:

  - 540 million train.km (passengers),

  - 74 billion passenger.km (main lines 34 billion, regional 40 billion), +3-4% each year.

  - 96 billion de ton.km, leading European freight operator, with a modal share of 17%).

  - Turnover in 2007: 32 billion euros. The historical operator is a holding company (several branches, one of which owns the network, i.e. the equivalent of RFF in France), in the process of privatisation according to several economic periodicals, and in any case attempting to become profitable; the first profits were recorded in 2006.

• New arrivals are present on the regional lines and in the freight sector. They accounted for 15% of train.km in 2006 for regional passengers. Subsidies paid by the Länderto the DB in 2006: 7 billion €, 6.6 in 2008. Modal shares (as a % of distance): train 9.4% in 2006 and growing.  Car 80%, public transportation 9.2% and growing (plane 1.2%). Modal share of bike travel in cities: 9%.    

Train + bike, the main points :

  • Historical operator’s bike policy: not very bike-friendly.
  • New arrivals’ bike policy:  varies from one federated state to another.
  • Central government’s bike policy: very bike-friendly. 
  • Länder’ bike policy:  variable. Very bike-friendly in NordRhein Westphalia.

Train + bike, strategies :


Objectives / Roles

Actions / products

Benefits / motivations

Central government –  Bike department at the ministry
(8 persons)

Promote bike travel

Advises, proposes, but does not impose anything on the states.  Promote the good practices 
Länder Define and implement bike policy.  Define and implement bike  Political gains, social gains.
Historical operator = DB Propose bike transport solutions Proposes alternatives to ICE,  tourist offers.
Areas on board trains.
Search for profitability.
Other operators (regional) Propose bike transport solutions. Areas on board trains.  Win calls for tenders. 
ADFC (association) Promote bike travel.  Campaigns, contributes to BikeParks, denounces and proposes. Development of bike use. 

Each Lander defines its own bike policy, which can go from nothing to a powerful club of bike-friendly cities directed by the state, as is the case in NordRhein Westphalia (18 million people).  Lobbying plays a major role in the operation of the system.

When the will exists at the level of the state, but also of the other partners (cities and cantons, associations), the organisation is very efficient. Consultation exists mainly between associations and city government, as well as between the DB and the states (as the authorities responsible for organising transportation).

Funding :

Funding comes from the central government as far as investments are concerned (subsidies to the DB). It is variable in the case of operation. Generally speaking, for bike parking facilities: DB Station & Services owns the railroad station (DB Netz owns the tracks of the network) and operates it (services at the station).
It therefore rents the surface area to DB Regio or DB Fernverkehr when the parking facility is on its land. However, bike parking spaces in the vicinity of the stations are more often paid for by the city, which installs them on its own land. As for guarded facilities, it is sometimes the city but more often DB Station & Services that owns the real estate and rents it to the operators.

Train + bike, offer

The DB draws a clear distinction between commuter and tourist customer bases.

 - Access to and travel from the railroad station: This is more the province of the city (bike lanes, etc.), with or without support from the state, and whether or not according to the advice / expertises of the government (Bike Mission in Berlin). The DB does not participate. However, the DB has set up the Call a Bike product, a system of self-service bikes that may be taken out via a phone call to the number written on the Bike.

- At the departure and/or arrival station: Bike signing depends on the Länder; however, it is unified inside some of them, as in  NordRhein Westphalia.
Bike services are usually limited to BikeParks, where a large proportion of cyclist commuters leave their bike at night.

- At the station, parking is sometimes unauthorised (Freiburg, for instance), because the facilities are inadequate. BikeParks exist, a total of nearly 80 (59 of them in NordRhein Westphalia).  The parking facility itself is never profitable; the auxiliary  services make up for this (rental, maintenance and repairs, etc.), but usually the local authorities grant some financial aid. Parking usually costs 1€ a day, but yearly passes are much more advantageous.
Left-luggage facilities (lockers) are offered in nearly all stations. They usually cost 3 or 4€. The railroad stations seem less « Fahrradfreundlich » (bike-friendly) than in Switzerland. There is no common standard for parking and sometimes there is none, it depends on the states.

- On board the train:
All the regional trains have large bike areas, often 16 jump seats facing one another (8+8). This works out to a loss of only two seats as compared with the usual configuration. DB Regio is under the obligation of accepting bike transport. The price is either 4.50€ or free of charge, depending on the states. Main line trains all accept bikes, except for the ICEs, at a price of 9€ (6€ with a DB pass). The international pass costs 10€.
This is the main battle ground of the associations, but also of the government bike department in Berlin, not to say of Europe, for the ICEs account for practically 70% of main line traffic. About 10% of the network thus remains inaccessible to bikes, thus greatly lengthening travel time (*2, *3, *4). The findings of the experiment carried out in 1998 on the ICEs concluded that there was a problem involving bike spaces that were unused  in winter and possible delays at the many stops.

Nearly 1.1 million bikes are transported at the regional level and 250 000 on the main lines, amounting to a sharp decrease on the main lines (600 000 in 2000). Compare this with Switzerland (600 000 a year for 10 times fewer people).
 Bikes can be shipped at a price of 25 euros (a niche market). At rush hours, some regional trains are barred to bikes.
The DB is presently attempting to invigorate the bike touring market on tourist lines via information brochures and especially through Ameropa, one of its companies which, among other things, sells train + bike tours in Germany (7400 agents, 80% of cyclists use a rental bike, 20% use their own).

Information and communication :

The offer is readable, but ADFC and the government bike department consider that barring ICEs to bikes is a real problem. As far as information is concerned, the DB’s web site is a model. The DB’s train + bike guide also provides the necessary information for travelling with a bike. An easily accessible sub-site (two clicks) of the DB’s web site (travel & mobility tab, train + bike sub-site) also indicates all the practical information. Communication is especially directed at tourists (tourist travel by  bike, rental, etc.).

Customer loyalty:

BikePark pass-holders have magnetic cards, chip cards or keys enabling them to leave their bike for the night in order to use it to travel from their arrival station to their office.

Freins identifiés :

The DB, which is not very bike-friendly, charges rent to BikePark operators for the general expenses of the railroad station, the perspective being profitability (prospects of privatisation (stock market quotation), strong growth required). This is detrimental to BikePark operators, particularly in NRW.
There are also recurring problems with barnacle bikes at the railroad stations.

Notable policies :

DB door-to-door search engine : http://www.db.de (see detailed description)

Policy of the city of Münster, with the Radstation :

     With a 35% modal share for a city 23 km in diameter (22% in 1982), as compared with 40% for cars, the city of Münster has created a network of direct bike lanes, with no gaps, comprehensive bike signing (traffic lights, road crossings, etc.), bike parking facilities more or less everywhere, and more complicated routes for cars (one-way streets, etc.).

The Radstation (see detailed description in the Train + Bike Products sub-site) was first created to solve the problem raised by too many bikes in the vicinity of the railroad station. The 3300 spaces have an occupancy rate of 90%; 2000 are occupied by new bikes. We may assume that the railroad station thus gained a little under 2000 daily customers. Simultaneously, a renovation programme had to be undertaken at the station in order to deal with the flow of people, which had become too large.

Policy of NRW: AGFS, club of cycle-friendly cities, particularly equipped with Radstations

Politique train+vélo de Nordrhein-Westfalen - Acteurs et interactions

   The Land of NRW (NordRhein Westphalia) has 18 million people, the size of a large French region (34 000 km²), but operates like a nation-state. The local ministry of transportation launched the AGFS, which stands for „Arbeitsgemeinschaftfahrradfreundliche Städte, Gemeinden und Kreise in Nordrhein-Westfalen e.V.“, a club of bike-friendly cities (37 in april 2008), metropolitan areas (1) and boroughs (7). This club has strict admission terms, whose effectiveness is checked by an 18-person commission every seven years (level of bike infrastructures: bike lanes, parking, etc.).

    The objective of the club is to promote bike use by means of an action plan:
- Communication campaigns in favour of biking, safety (helmets, lights), best practices (Best for Bike campaign, which lists and rewards good examples, such as handles for cyclists at traffic lights).
- Guide for bike infrastructures and special products (for instance, alternate bike lanes during roadway work).
- Brochures and web site.
- As regards train + bike, the « 100 Fahrradstationen in NRW » (100 BikeParks for NRW) programme has resulted, in cooperation with ADFC and the DB, in the creation of over 60 of them to date, with a total of 18 000 bike spaces, in or in the vicinity of the railroad stations, funded up to an amount of 1500 euros par space by the state.

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 : Bike Mission of the DB Fernverkehr, Michaël Eckenweber and Silke Ahrens, Michael.Eckenweber@bahn.de and silke.ahrens@bahn.de  - At the Ministry’s Bike Mission, Ludovic Houssin, Ludovic.houssin@bmvbs.bund.de  - Land of NordRhein-Westphalia: Peter London, Ministry of Transportation (of NRW),  Peter.London@mbv.nrw.de - Christine Fuchs, director of AGFS, christine.fuchs@krefeld.de - Ulrich Kalle, director of ADFC, NRW branch, u.kalle@adfc-nrw.de