“Time that belongs to you.” This is the motto with which the German national rail company, Deutsche Bahn, has advertised train travel over the last year. Soon, however, the automotive industry could be making this claim. After all, in automated vehicles, which should be on the roads a few years from now, the traveling time can be used for working or resting just as well as in a train compartment. Deutsch Bahn CEO Rüdiger Grube has realized this. He therefore plans to operate fleets of driverless cars in future in addition to trains. Speaking to the magazine Wirtschaftswoche, Grube explained the idea as follows: “Today we at Deutsche Bahn are selling traveling time as quality time. In future, if autonomously driving cars can do the same, then the operators of these cars will be able to make the same claim about their services. That is why we are adding autonomously driving cars to our portfolio.” Automated driving is “a big project for Deutsche Bahn,” Grube continued.
This is by no means his only idea. In future Grube aims to run not only trains, but also to expand Deutsche Bahn into a fully integrated provider of mobility services. In this connection he is especially interested in the so-called “last mile,” i.e. the trip from the train station to the final destination. For this purpose, since 2007 Deutsche Bahn has operated a bike-hire business under the name Call a Bike. In around 50 German cities, including Berlin, Frankfurt, Cologne, Munich, Stuttgart and Hamburg, some 700,000 registered users have access to more than 8,000 bicycles.
But not everybody wants to get home from the station by riding a bike. For this reason, about a year ago Deutsche Bahn – in collaboration with General Motors – took a share in the online ride-sharing business flinc, which is specialized in short- to medium-length journeys and organized on a regional basis. Rail travelers can inquire about ride-sharing through the flinc app, as well as comparing and combining different modes of transportation, because the train timetable and schedules of local transit systems have been integrated into the app.