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Deutsche Bahn: How about a penalty, dear railway board members?

Deutsche Bahn: How about a penalty, dear railway board members?

The board members of Deutsche Bahn will subsequently receive a bonus totaling around five million euros for 2022. Our author thinks it’s undeserved and explains how it came about.

The appearance of the German train is devastating: delays, slow routes, train cancellations. The reasons are well known: trains and rails are broken, bridges are dilapidated, and the railways have not invested enough for years. In recent years, their profits have never reached the level of 2012 again, and recently there were even net losses in the books: 227 million euros in 2022 alone. Debt is at a record high. The list goes on. But the conclusion of this list would remain the same: it has never been as bad as it is today – the board members of Deutsche Bahn also admit this contritely. It’s just that they themselves don’t seem to want to have anything to do with it.

Because how else are you, as a rail driver and taxpayer, supposed to understand that the entire railway board will now receive five million euros in bonuses for 2022 (the star reported). Just at the time when the rest Germany argue about where cuts should be made to close a huge budget gap? And since even “small amounts” of a few million euros are no longer taboo for citizens’ money. Is there perhaps potential for savings here, Mr. Lindner?

Admittedly, top railway staff are paid comparatively poorly. In 2022, the BMW CEO alone earned ten million euros more than the entire railway board, which, including the bonuses that are now due to be paid out, comes to almost nine million euros. But that’s not it Argument. Because unlike the BMW boss, there was no benefits on the railway, the it was to be awarded.

Deutsche Bahn weights its goals incorrectly

A look at the compensation catalog reveals the basic problem: the bonuses are incorrectly weighted, the goals are too unambitious and the bonuses are too generous. Customer satisfaction and punctuality are part of the goals we set ourselves. But it doesn’t hurt any board member when the trains are notoriously unpunctual and rail customers are constantly stressed. The only consequence: zero euro bonus in this category. A penalty would be better. This is, in principle, possible the railway group mentioned the possibility even a salary deduction even in their compensation report, without being more specific. But no listed company in Germany has yet done this daring.

As it stands, the poor performance in the railway’s core business is easily compensated for by areas in which the company does not excel, but at least minimal improvements can be seen. Example: According to research by NDR, WDR and SZ, the proportion of women in management positions rose to 27 percent in 2022, one percentage point above the self-imposed mark. According to internal documents, this gave the railway board members 200 percent of the bonus for this area.

It becomes completely grotesque when the former railway infrastructure director Ronald Pofalla receives a bonus of 85,333 euros because he overachieved the “expansion of the network and infrastructure”. Success rate: 200 percent. The only thing that can laugh is the railway itself. In 2022, of all days, the company admitted for the first time that the condition of the infrastructure was miserable and that it had been hiding this for years. The infrastructure condition reports prepared annually by the railway since 2008 have always reported that the infrastructure was in a solid condition. The Federal Railway Authority checked the reports and approved them. Even in the Federal Ministry of Transport, problems were never identified or publicly identified – although wear and tear and deterioration were obvious to anyone who used the railway.

According to stock corporation law, the bodies of a stock corporation, the board of directors and the supervisory board, are personally liable for breaches of duty. “The deterioration of the infrastructure represents a risk that threatens the existence of Bahn AG, which the board of directors would have to inform the supervisory board about and develop countermeasures,” says rail critic Christian Böttger, who teaches at the Berlin University of Technology and Economics.

The fact that the railway’s top managers now receive a bonus instead of foregoing part of their salary is the responsibility of the owner: that is 100 percent the federal government. His representatives on the supervisory board waved through the bonuses – probably also because they know that they are partly to blame for the condition of the railway.

This comment appeared first which, like star, belongs to RTL Deutschland.

Source: Stern

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