Passengers Can Book Rail Journeys Much More Easily in the UK than in the EU – It’s Time for EU Transport Commissioner Vălean’s New MDMS Proposal to Put Passengers First

Below is a screenshot from the rail ticket retail website of the UK passenger rail operator LNER (

Proposed train journeys from London to York after 16.30 on 27 September 2023 (searched on 18 September 2023), as shown on the in-house ticket vendor of the UK rail operator LNER (
Note how the journey with competing operator DB Grand Central is on sale as well, even though its service is cheaper and faster than that of LNER operator.
  • In the United Kingdom, All Rail Tickets Are Sold at All Rail Ticket Vendors.
  • In the example shown above, Grand Central, a 100% subsidiary operator of Germany’s state-owned rail incumbent Deutsche Bahn (‘DB’), is bookable on the sales channels of LNER, the competing operator on the same route.
  • Yet Deutsche Bahn (DB) and its lobby refuse this in Germany and the EU – Why Are They Restricting the Operators that Passengers Can Book?

In the example shown above, the UK operator DB Grand Central is faster and cheaper than competing operator LNER on the same route, but LNER still sells it (and vice-versa). Why is this?

It is about impartiality and transparency for passengers – by means of multichannel sales. No matter which website or app they go to, rail travellers in the UK can see and book the same rail product. Meanwhile, rail operators are still able to compete with each other, by means of different fares, journey times and service quality.

Furthermore, third-party rail ticket vendors also thrive in the UK’s multichannel sales environment:

  • If all rail ticket vendors (both operator in-house and third-party) receive access to the same data, then they compete in terms of technical excellence. In other words, which vendor refines the data for the best use of the passengers.

As we can see in the example above, DB’s operators in the United Kingdom are happy to take advantage of the “All Rail Tickets at All Rail Ticket Vendors” policy. So why does DB lobby against this in the EU? Why does the same company follow such a blatant double standard?!

ALLRAIL Secretary General Nick Brooks

There is clearly market failure in Germany: DB’s in-house ticket vendors have over 90% market share in the downstream rail ticket sales market. Consequently, passengers cannot book the services of those rail operators that DB refuses to sell.

mofair Managing Director Dr. Matthias Stoffregen

Therefore, EU Transport Commissioner Vălean must include a new policy of “All Rail Tickets Sold at All Rail Ticket Vendors” in the upcoming Multimodal Digital Mobility Services (MDMS) Proposal – Passengers Must Come First.

ALLRAIL, the Alliance of Passenger Rail New Entrants, represents private independent passenger railway companies. ALLRAIL advocates for faster market opening in passenger rail transport in Europe in order to accelerate modal shift to rail and reduce transport-related emissions. 

mofair is the German Association of Independent Passenger Rail Operators. It advocates for transparent and fair framework conditions for competition in Germany.