Is FS Trenitalia Afraid Of Competing With Deutsche Bahn (DB) In Germany?

In recent years, Italy’s state-owned rail incumbent, FS Trenitalia, has proved that competition between different state-owned high-speed operators on the same tracks has led to fast growth in the number of rail passengers. This is great news for modal shift to rail.

Furthermore, in the near future, Trenitalia plans to operate high-speed trains to Germany as well.

But surprisingly Trenitalia’s will enter into a collusion agreement with the German state-owned incumbent Deutsche Bahn (‘DB’) instead. Why is this? Is Trenitalia too afraid to compete in Germany?

After Trenitalia started competing with the French state high-speed incumbent SNCF between Milan, Lyon and Paris in 2021, the total number of rail passengers grew by 58% in just nine months. There has also been impressive passenger growth since Trenitalia started competing against the Spanish state high-speed incumbent Renfe within Spain. The result has been modal shift to rail.

Indeed: just a few days ago, the CEO of Trenitalia in France Mr Robert Rinaudo said himself: “the arrival of new operators in the rail market makes it possible to attract more travellers throughout the sector and in France we are already starting to see the first results”. 

Yet despite all this evidence, it seems that Trenitalia is too afraid to compete against DB’s high-speed trains in Germany. Instead it wants to collude with DB, despite planning to use the same kind of Frecciarossa high-speed trainsets as it already does in France and Spain.

Simply put: it is an anomaly that two of the largest operators in the EU are unable to compete against each other. In any other competitive market, in any sector, this would be unthinkable. Such a cartel-like structure will seriously disadvantage passengers: higher fares and fewer frequencies. The modal shift that we have seen in France and Spain – with more people taking the train – will not happen.

“Why does Trenitalia follow the advice of its colleague Robert Rinaudo in France – but not in Germany? Is it too afraid to compete with DB? For the sake of modal shift to rail, Europe needs answers.”

ALLRAIL Policy Officer Salim Benkirane