5-million-euro bonuses granted to DB bosses despite service failings

5-million-euro bonuses granted to DB bosses despite service failings

Reports by three German news publications have revealed that Deutsche Bahn bosses received millions of euros' worth of bonuses for 2022, despite chronic train delays and disruption for passengers.

Top Deutsche Bahn bosses received millions in bonuses, NDR reports

For the year when every third Deutsche Bahn passenger was delayed, a select few bosses at the international company will receive hefty 5-million-euro bonuses, new reports by NDR, WDR and Süddeutsche Zeitung have revealed.

With chronic delays worsening each year and little money being invested to fund long-term solutions to Deutsche Bahn’s deteriorating tracks and dysfunctional services, the news of the bonuses has left some wondering how DB bosses were still able to meet their targets when services were so chaotic for passengers.

With access to Deutsche Bahn budget records, the three German publications have suggested that the company offsets its missed targets with targets that have been exceeded so that it can award the million-euro bonuses.

The bonuses mean that the nine executive employees working at DB are likely to see their annual salary rise from 4 million euros to 9 million euros for 2022. Independently, CEO Richard Lutz is said to have received 440.000 euros in bonus payments.

The news comes amid ongoing negotiations and recurring strikes by the German Train Drivers’ Union (GDL), who are demanding 555 euros more for employees each month, a 3.000-euro bonus to offset inflation price rises and reduced working hours from 38 hours to 35 per week with no pay cut.

Deutsche Bahn to change its bonus award system

According to the reports by NDR, WDR and Süddeutsche Zeitung, Deutsche Bahn’s “women in leadership and employee satisfaction” was one of the areas where the company exceeded its targets, resulting in a 1,6-million-euro bonus from this target alone. 

Though Deutsche Bahn services were marred with delays and dysfunction in 2022, employees did not strike throughout the year thanks to the GDL union having made a deal with company bosses in late 2021.

Next year, however, the company plans to reduce the number of bonuses, and will instead opt to pay top bosses higher salaries. When these changes are implemented, Deutsche Bahn services being punctual, cancelled or overcrowded will also hold less sway as to whether employees get a raise or bonus. 

Deutsche Bahn renovation at risk due to German budget crisis

Deutsche Bahn’s worsening service has a long history but has accelerated in recent years. As recently as 2017, 86 percent of passengers were arriving at their destination with a delay of 15 minutes or less. Back in 1994, over 90 percent of long-distance trains arrived on time.

A recent news segment by German public broadcaster ZDF pointed to the privatisation of the nationwide rail service as a turning point for the quality of service, “from then the company had to work economically, and save, first and foremost, on the track network,” the documentary suggested.

The company does have plans to refurbish 40 severely damaged lines by 2030, but funding planned from the Federal Ministry of Transportation now hangs in the balance as the German government still grapples with its budget plans. Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) has said that renovation plans for the 40 track sections are already at risk.

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Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan



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