Refunding of federal rail infrastructure investments is achieved both through user charges
and through public budgets. The track charging system of the DB Netz AG consists of three
components: a basic track charge, a product factor and special factors.
The basic charge is varied by multiplying with the product factor to distinguish between the qualities of the track.
For high demand tracks a surplus of 20% is applied to redirect traffic to less congested tracks.
Special factors are e.g. Steam trains. In low demand areas regional factors increase track
charges in order to improve the cost/revenue ratio. This price differentiation has been strongly
criticised by the regions as a source of potential discrimination.
These track charges are supposed to allow DB Netz AG to recover the annual depreciation of infrastructure
investments. However, there is still strong public sector involvement in the rail sector:
indirectly through the track charges of subsidised regional rail services
(Regionalisierungsmittel) and directly through financial grants towards construction costs and
to cover losses of DB Netz AG (see above). As compensation for the regionalisation of
railway services, a fixed amount of funds is transferred from the federal general budget to the
states (2002: 6.745 billion Euros; increased by 1.5% p.a. From 2003 on). KCW et al. (2005)
estimate the subsidisation of the DB AG from state budgets at around 10 bill Euro with a total
revenue of DB AG of 16 billion Euro in 2004 (62% state subsidies, investments and
Similarly the Scientific Advisory Board to the Ministry of Transport cites that DB
AG has recorded revenues from track charges and fees of about 3 billion Euro (including the
subsidised regional services) and estimating a gap in the cost recovery of 2.5 billion Euro
which DB AG demands as state contribution (45%) (Wissenschaftlicher Beirat, 2005).