Supporting the Market Entry of an International Transport Company into the German Regional Rail Market


In the wake of deregulation / regionalisation of the German regional rail market, Europe-wide tendering procedures for operations and possibly sales or the provision of (sub-)network infrastructure are on the increase. Even among foreign transport companies, there is great interest to participate in the German market, although structures seem confusing and the specific opportunities and strategies need to be evaluated individually.


The project concerned an international transport company in need of support for its potential market entry as an operator of rail transport services in Germany. In close cooperation, company- and market-specific alternatives had to be determined and evaluated in order to develop a promising strategy for an expansion of the business segment “Regional Rail Transport”. Based on these findings, the key features of a concrete approach had to be defined.

The key strategic options “Joint Venture”, “Merger & Acquisition” (M&A), and “independent participation in regional rail transport tenders” were identified and examined in detail:

  • M&A and Joint Venture: Based on a “Long List” of active German public transport companies, criteria for assessing the level of compliance (focus of business segment, size, real net output ratio etc.) with the respective key options were defined and a corresponding “filtering” was carried out. Subsequently, a more detailed analysis and an examination of their individual level of compliance (e.g. based on their competencies, tendency to expand and financial capacity) was executed. After having further reduced the total number of potential candidates by use of current market information, two final target lists remained, including relevant contact persons. These were contacted confidentially regarding a potential cooperation.

  • With respect to the key option “Tender participation”, upcoming contract awards in regional rail transport were concentrated in a database and analysed for critical features. In particular, data were collected, concerning criteria such as volume, contract type, region, vehicle requirements, term of the contract, and evaluated with regard to their specific attractiveness. This evaluation resulted in a few preferred options, and specific invitations to tender were envisaged. Moreover, necessary issues such as the key features of a company foundation and the recruitment of potential employees for the organisation of a bid team were determined in this context.


As an (intermediate) result, several workshops spawning various discussions on cooperations between the foreign investor and German companies took place in Germany. Not only possible cooperations with regional rail transport operators were discussed, but also conversations with vehicle manufacturers and financing companies were held. Furthermore, specific invitations to tender were profoundly analysed together with the relevant regional authorities, and the participation in a prequalification or tender, respectively, was taken into consideration. All findings and information were summarised in a report, including market overviews and specific options for market entry, which formed the basis for a final decision by the company’s board of management.

19. February 2016