FlixTrain in Berlin

FlixTrain criticises Deutschlandtakt: ‘nobody wants a twenty-minute train’

FlixTrain in Berlin Flix Mobility

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.

Miracle cure

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.

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Author: Paul van den Bogaard

Paul van den Bogaard is editor of SpoorPro, a sister title of RailTech

9 comments op “FlixTrain criticises Deutschlandtakt: ‘nobody wants a twenty-minute train’”

Joachim Falkenhagen|08.09.21|13:37

Long distance trains every 20 minutes are an important part of more conveniece, if ticket prices are not higher if passengers choose the train that just suits best to their arrival time at the station.
Trains every 20 (or 10) minutes also allow for a better service at mid-sized towns along the route, which might be served once per hour: Then only 1/3 of the trains would need to stop at such towns, meaning that trains can achieve higher speed, serve more stops or a combiniation of both.

Joachim Falkenhagen|08.10.21|12:41

For explanation: More frequent trains only increase conveniece if passengers can usually use the next train available, when they arrive at the station. When changing trains, a missed train would be less relevant if the next train departs just 20 minues later and the ticket can still be used there. Some people arrive 25 minutes early at the station just to be sure to arrive in time; they could use a train 20 minutes earlier if it exists and the ticket is accepted.

Joachim Falkenhagen|08.10.21|12:43

More frequent trains on a main axis open more opportunities for direct trains to towns beyond. E.g. if there were trains every 10 minutes from Hamburg to Berlin, one of the six hourly trains could continue to Frankfurt (Oder), one to Cottbus, one to Dresden, two to Leipzig and one to Halle (and always beyond). Further trains to Halle and beyond to Munich would start in Berlin or at other places.

Joachim Falkenhagen|08.10.21|12:45

I believe the much longer number of railcars in long-distance trains (up to 13) compared to regional trains (often 4-6) is a mayor obstacle to more direct lines, as the capacity of the long trains is not required for the regional connections. But the length is currently required for recovering the track access fees.
Also, trains should not run half-empty at periods of the day or the year with low demand. Shorter trains at such time might be more important than reduced timetables.

Johannes Neumayer|11.03.22|13:40

Real life observation of public transport proves Mr Schwämmlein wrong.
Half hour interval have proven successful in a lot of european countries , nation wide or on part of the networks , for instance on several high speed lines and not least in Germany where part of the ICE/IC network has an approximate 30 min headway. this to such an extent that 15 min headways are being considered on some networks.Coming from the coach industry , he knows frequency is part of the success of manycoach operator

Johannes Neumayer|11.03.22|13:41

As for the 80% capacity reserve it must be a joke or does he also want to digitize station platforms ? Capacity at main stations is limited and so is capacity at main junctions. Successfull Capacity enhancement projects like Thameslink take decades to complete , mobilizing a lot of ressources for a very small though very important parts of a network.

Johannes Neumayer|11.03.22|13:41

Another good example is LGV Paris Sud-Est where headways are of 6 min . 80 % more would bring that to little more then 1 min ,but station stops are longer then that ! And stations like Gare de Lyon or Lyon Part-Dieu are already streched beyond capacity – actually people have to be retained off the platforms prior to boarding . How do you solve that by digitizing?

Johannes Neumayer|11.03.22|13:42

The LGV example seems very localized but actually it costrains capacity on all the Sud Est réseau : even if further south there would be capacity available , these trains need to be able to get north. You can find a lot of examples like this all over Europe .

Joachim Falkenhagen|17.05.22|00:08

The 80% assumed easy increase in capacity is for Germany, not France or the main axis Paris-Lyon in France.

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