The federal government finances the planned uncovered costs of rail infrastructure operation and asset maintenance. This includes adaptations to technical installations and meeting transport needs. To that end it concludes four-year service-level agreements (SLA) with infrastructure managers (IM).
The service level agreements set out the level of operating subsidies and investment contributions as well as the targets for railway undertakings for a four-year period based on the medium-term plans of the railways. Setting the level of operating subsidies and investment contributions for a multiannual period encourages the economical use of the available resources and serves as an incentive to improve productivity. The service level agreement can only be adapted in the event of significant deviations from the initial plans.
The FOT manages the service level agreements by means of its controlling procedures. The goals are set jointly for all IMs, but target values are set separately for each IM. Success in achieving the goals is measured quantitatively via results-oriented indicators, but the railways are also required to report on other objectives (network condition, utilisation and load of the network, ETCS, etc.). The IMs must submit a report at least every six months on progress towards achieving the objectives and the status of the agreed investment projects, which is reviewed by the federal government. The FOT can order measures to ensure that targets are met or demand the return of financial benefits if the services commissioned are not provided as agreed, or if targets or deadlines are not met.