Transport Minister Volker Wissing and Deutsche Bahn boss Richard Lutz have chosen a fine address for the presentation of their new railway concept. In the federal press conference this Wednesday, they explain how they want to resolve the current chaos on the rails. Most of it is already known. Lutz wants to rehabilitate the country’s most important railway corridors one by one by the end of the decade. It is best to renew everything on the routes at the same time – from the tracks to the signals to the ballast. Where most trains run and there are bottlenecks, Lutz promises a high-performance network with the latest technology.
That’s right, but there’s a bad truth that Lutz and Wissing don’t say: A reliable and reasonably efficient rail network will not exist until 2030. The railway will only become a “climate saver” in the next decade. However, the federal government continues to demand that the railway industry double passenger numbers by 2030 and that freight railways demand a higher market share of 25 percent. How is that supposed to work when construction sites dominate the picture on the most important routes?
E-mobility, transport policy and future mobility: the briefing on transport and smart mobility. For decision makers
If Lutz and Wissing stick to the course of expansion, the delays that are currently getting on the nerves of passengers and the industry will persist in the coming years. Because during construction times, it makes sense not to run more, but fewer trains. It is therefore time that Wissing and Lutz prepare the Germans for difficult years in which it is a matter of keeping rail operations stable. Then the understanding of rail customers will also grow.
Federal Chancellors Schröder and Merkel did not only fail to make the country future-proof when it came to energy security. Their austerity policies have also resulted in rotten railroad tracks and highways. Switzerland and Austria have renewed their rail network in recent years. You can now initiate the traffic turnaround. Germany is currently not prepared for this.
An admission of this hard truth does not free Lutz and Wissing from doing everything to expand rail traffic – on the contrary. The transport minister has to push through more money for rail expansion in the ongoing budget negotiations. Because the renovation of the existing routes alone will not solve the capacity problems. Transport planning finally needs to focus on environmentally friendly rail. Building everything at the same time – even more motorways and bypasses – no longer works.
Richard Lutz has a duty to implement the effective and speedy thorough renovation of the most important routes. Such “capacity-saving construction” had previously been announced by the failed DB Infrastructure Board Member Ronald Pofalla.
Deutsche Bahn and the federal government can and must at least increase the number of passengers with the current problem network. There are clever ideas for this: the “Industry Initiative for Bicycles and Railways” proposed one million new secure bicycle parking spaces at train stations on Monday.
This makes the way to the train station more attractive for many cyclists and e-bike riders. In the Netherlands, such a program has attracted many new customers to the trains. And the railway should also open up for two-story ICE trains. The double-deckers, with around 40 percent more capacity, are ideal for sprinter trains between major cities.
It’s not just construction that needs to get smarter at Deutsche Bahn.