Deutsche Bahn-Subsidiary Arriva Will Run Electric Buses in Copenhagen

The international transport provider is part of an ongoing divestiture-debate in Germany. Will Arriva still be part of Deutsche Bahn in future?

By Thomas Balbierer

In December 2019, the city of Copenhagen will replace existing buses on line 2A (Tingbjerg – Kastrup St.) by 21 electric buses. The buses will be provided by Arriva Denmark, as the transport company announced on Thursday, Sept. 13, on Twitter. Bus line 2A consists of 54 stops within 32 kilometres (Copenhagen’s Bus Line 2A on “Citymapper”)

Arriva Denmark is part of the international transport provider DB Arriva, that operates across 14 European markets and is a subsidiary to German national carrier Deutsche Bahn (DB). By Arriva’s own account, the company headquartered in Sunderland employs over 60.000 people and transports more than 2.2 billion passengers a year.

Copenhagen wants to be CO2 neutral by 2025

For Copenhagen, the Arriva-deal is part of the city’s strategy to reduce air pollution and becoming CO2 neutral by 2025. Frank Jensen, Mayor of Copenhagen, said in a press release: “We are working hard to replace all existing buses with green alternatives as soon as possible, so that people can breathe deeply and enjoy the health benefits travelling by bus can bring.”

In Germany, Arriva is almost unknown. It only operates outside of German borders. Still, the daughter company of Deutsche Bahn has an important role for DB’s strategy to expand on the international market. In its annual account the German parent company pictured Arriva as “our European growth platform in passenger transport”.

Arriva is one of the most profitable parts of DB group

In 2017, Arriva achieved a volume of 5,3 billion Euro and is one of the most profitable parts of the Deutsche Bahn group. Because of that, the group plans to expand Arriva’s share on the European market even more.

With this strategy, the company faces opposition in Germany. “The group Deutsche Bahn AG with over 700 subsidiaries and participations is too complex, too sluggish and hardly feasible in its structure”, says Matthias Gastel, rail political spokesman of the Green group in German Bundestag. The Deutsche Bahn is a 100 percent state-owned group.

Green politicians want the Bahn to focus more on national infrastructure

The Green opposition in parliament now wants to shatter the big transportation group. Gastel demands the DB to sell subsidiaries like Arriva and to re-invest the revenues in national rail infrastructure. In Germany, the trains should be safer, cleaner and more punctual, the Green politician says.

In addition to that, Gastel criticises the high indebtedness of Deutsche Bahn group. By DB’s own account, the group’s debts have increased to 18,6 billion Euro in 2017. By selling profitable daughter companies, DB could fight these debts, says the member of the Green group in German parliament.

In their coalition agreement, Christian Democrats and Social Democrats agreed on investing in rail infrastructure. “Punctuality, good service and high quality must be the hallmark of railways in Germany”, the new government noted.

Yet, it is uncertain if the government is willing to sell parts of DB group.


This article was written for a German audience