FlixTrain criticises Deutschlandtakt: ‘nobody wants a twenty-minute train’
According to FlixTrain director André Schwämmlein, it is completely unnecessary to run a train every twenty minutes on long-distance routes, as the German government and DB advocate. The supply should be densified at the times when people want to travel. The fact that they have to change trains deters people from travelling by train, he says.
The Deutschlandtakt, of which the plans for the twenty-minute trains are a part, aims to create a nationwide network by connecting regional and long-distance trains, and thus focuses on easy and frequent changes. Although the director of the private transport company is critical of the Deutschlandtakt, he says in an interview with the German newspaper Handelsblatt that he is willing to cooperate with it.
According to Schwämmlein, the railway is an indispensable part of the modal shift and green mobility, but should not be seen as a panacea that will now work thanks to extra investments. Deutsche Bahn will not achieve this modal shift on its own. Despite enormous state support, they have not succeeded so far either, says the FlixMobilty founder and director.
The fact that both DB and private transporters like FlixTrain have enormous ambitions for growth, he says, will not lead to an overload of the existing rail infrastructure. Capacity could be increased by 80 per cent by digitising the track, points and signals. In addition, investments in railway expansion are needed, but these should go directly to the infrastructure and not to Deutsche Bahn, says Schwämmlein.
The railway system should be supported, not a single railway company, because large parts of the railway system are under-utilised rather than overloaded, points out the top executive. He cites the example of the high-speed line between Munich and Berlin, on which trains only run once an hour in each direction. He is convinced that an autonomous railway manager will ensure a better-functioning railway system.
Schwämmlein understands that this will not happen overnight, but he feels that the first steps towards unbundling should be taken. “The excuse that it is too complicated is just that: an excuse.”
FlixMobility was founded in 2012 as a provider of cheap bus travel in Germany. Since then, buses for FlixBus have been operating throughout Europe and beyond. Since 2017, the company has been active in the rail market, serving several routes in Germany and one in Sweden. In addition, it is working on a market launch in France, but until now it has been postponed due to the high track access charges in France.