"Our Added Value? We Speak Rail!"

Interview with Mathias Mund, Managing Director of mund + ganz GmbH

mund + ganz train entrance

Hardly any other organization in Germany has to manage such comprehensive complexity as Deutsche Bahn – a challenge that also affects companies that work closely with it: for example, the engineering office mund + ganz from Heidelberg, which acts as a contractor for DB as well as for municipalities and private companies, and provides extensive project management, planning, and construction supervision services in the rail and road sector. Mathias Mund, Managing Director, spoke with Wirtschaftsforum about the special challenges in the railway environment.

Economic Forum: Mr. Mund, your engineering office is primarily engaged in activities related to construction measures in the railway environment. Which activities are at the center of your attention?

Mathias Mund: We offer comprehensive services, starting with consulting services before the actual project begins, through project management and planning services, to our core competence: construction supervision. As a specialty, we also offer so-called client support, in which we take care of coordination with participants before the actual construction measures are carried out, in order to resolve potential problems at an early stage; for example, we prepare relevant agreements with the railway for public utilities when water or power lines cross the railway body.

Mathias Mund, Managing Director of mund + ganz GmbH
Mathias Mund, Managing Director of mund + ganz GmbH

Economic Forum: What specific challenges define your day-to-day business in this very particular context?

Mathias Mund: Due to its size and organizational structure, Deutsche Bahn is a very special company with its own set of rules, highly differentiated individual processes, and a unique technical terminology. The associated complexity is difficult for most outsiders to access. However, mund + ganz has internalized all these peculiarities for more than 40 years. Therefore, we can communicate with Deutsche Bahn on an equal footing, as well as extensively advise and appropriately mediate our other clients regarding the specific requirements of the railway. We always say 'we speak railway' and use these experiences, for example, for cities and municipalities to successfully implement their projects.

mouth + entire railway bridge
mouth + entire highway

Economic Forum: What factors then increase complexity during the actual construction measures compared to more routine construction projects?

Mathias Mund: The individual phases actually differ relatively little from more routine construction projects, but the special concerns that need to be taken into account in the railway environment also come into play here. This includes, for example, the registrations for scheduling in the timetable of the Deutsche Bahn as well as close coordination with authorities such as the Federal Railway Office, whose very individual requirements must always be considered. During the actual construction measure, the behavior on the construction site is also particularly noteworthy – because often the railway operation continues during the actual work 'under rolling wheel' and only rarely are tracks completely blocked, so that the construction measure can be carried out entirely without traffic. Here, of course, comprehensive safety requirements must be observed and implemented accordingly.

Economic Forum: The construction industry is currently experiencing a significant market correction – is mund + ganz also affected by this development?

Mathias Mund: In principle, our company can operate largely independently of economic cycles. It is well known from the media that the rail network, bridges, or platforms are partly in a poor condition. For this reason, Deutsche Bahn simply cannot afford to postpone its investments any further, otherwise, entire sections of the route might prospectively not be usable at all. The same effect, that even profound macroeconomic and industry-specific developments have no direct consequences for our order situation, was also observed during the Coronavirus pandemic. This, of course, extensively changed the way we implement our projects, for instance by increasingly relying on video conferences and the execution and coordination becoming more complex – yet all these upheavals had no significant impact on our actual order situation.

Mouth + Complete New Railway Overpass Track at Worms
New Construction Railway Overpass Track at Worms
mouth + complete roadway surface renewal on the Autobahn A6
Roadway surface renewal on the Autobahn A6 near Mannheim
mouth + completely transformer transport
Projects that make a significant contribution to a better sustainability record are particularly close to mouth + entirely heart – here a transformer transport

Economic Forum: Another burning issue that concerns both the construction industry and the railway equally, is sustainability. In what way can Mund + ganz thanks to its neuralgic position in the value chain contribute significantly to this?

Mathias Mund: Projects that have a noticeable improvement in the sustainability balance are indeed particularly close to our hearts. Currently, a depot for hydrogen buses is being built not far from our company headquarters in Heidelberg, for which we are performing the construction supervision. Likewise, we are involved in the transport of transformers on the railways, which are indispensable for the further expansion of the electricity network in Germany and its permanent stability - in this context, we are evaluating, for example, which routes are optimal for transport, and sometimes also accompany the new construction or conversion of rail connections for the substations. With our sustainability certificate according to ISO 26000, we have also been consistently demonstrating our company's internal sustainability ambitions for a long time.