The Deutsche Bahn from the point of view of the Federal Cartel Office, disadvantages competing online platforms in the sale of train tickets in an anti-competitive manner. “According to the findings of the Federal Cartel Office, DB is using its key position in the transport and infrastructure markets to restrict competition from third-party mobility platforms,” the authority announced on Wednesday.
The background is a long-standing dispute between Deutsche Bahn and internet platforms such as Trainline or Omio, where consumers can also buy train tickets for long-distance transport.
But for this, the companies need certain data that only Deutsche Bahn has: “This applies to delay data for rail passenger transport as well as train cancellations or canceled or additional stops, the reasons for delays or cancellations, additional trips or replacement services, current platform information or platform changes and data on Major disruption events,” said the Federal Cartel Office.
Deutsche Bahn is said to have not provided sufficient data
According to the authority, Deutsche Bahn did not make this data available to the competition in sufficient quantity. The group also withheld a commission from its competitors for arranging the train tickets. Competitors depend on these to make it worthwhile to sell tickets on their own platforms.
The Federal Cartel Office has therefore instructed the group to “pay a service fee based on minimum antitrust standards” in the future, as the authority further announced. The same applies to the brokerage commission itself. “The exact amount of the commission is reserved for negotiations between DB and its contractual partners.”
Competitors may also use their own discount campaigns, bonus point or cashback programs in the future. “This ends unequal treatment with DB itself, which in turn advertises its own offers with these funds,” it said.
Competition sees “an important step in the right direction” – Bahn criticizes
The competition expressed their satisfaction with the authority’s decision on Wednesday. “Today’s decision by the Federal Cartel Office is an important step in the right direction for German rail passengers,” said Jody ford, head of the Trainline sales platform. “It is a categorical and clear decision for a level playing field between DB and digital platforms.”
The railways again criticized the decision and announced appeals. “The Federal Cartel Office intervenes in core issues in the entrepreneurial freedom of DB,” said the group. The decision has far-reaching economic consequences for the company. “The high additional burdens caused by the required changes to the sales model are not offset by any corresponding savings or additional income.”