30.06.2022, Bayern, München: Eine S-Bahn fährt in den Ostbahnhof. Die zweite S-Bahn-Stammstrecke durch die Münchner Innenstadt wird nach Einschätzung des Bayerischen Verkehrsministeriums massiv teurer und kommt Jahre später als geplant. Foto: Sven Hoppe/dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

The Marienhof behind the Munich City Hall was once beautifully landscaped with a dense lawn. For more than five years, however, the prominently located square has been closed off with high fences. The Deutsche Bahn explains on boards that the second S-Bahn trunk line is being built here at a depth of 40 meters. According to the information boards, the mammoth project will go into operation in 2028. The new tunnel is to run right through the city and is currently the largest infrastructure project in Germany.

But now the tube is being compared either with the new Berlin BER airport or with the Stuttgart 21 complex. Both projects devoured and continue to devour enormous sums of money. In Munich, the costs are similar, while the completion could be postponed until the end of the day. According to the Bavarian Transport Minister Christian Bernreiter (CSU), his house is now assuming 7.2 instead of 3.8 billion euros. And S-Bahn trains will only start in 2037 and not from 2028. This would be catastrophic for Munich and all of Bavaria, the Mayor of Munich Dieter Reiter (SPD) speaks of an “incredible further delay” and an “unacceptable development”.

The Munich S-Bahn, completed in 1972, is bursting at the seams. Especially the so-called trunk route in the city with stations such as the main station and Marienplatz is extremely prone to breakdowns. To relieve the pressure, the second tunnel is being built, which will be seven kilometers long and will essentially run under the first from Laim in the west of the city to behind the Ostbahnhof. According to the current status, the main route is financed 60 percent by the federal government and 40 percent by the Free State. The developer is Deutsche Bahn.

Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) was to make his inaugural visit to Bavaria at the end of last week. His country colleague Bernreiter and Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) also wanted to talk to him about imminent increases in tunnel costs and how these could be financed. But Wissing canceled the appointment at short notice and without justification. That started the argument. Bernreiter attested to the Federal Minister’s “very bad style” and said: “Mr. Wissing pinches.” A request from this newspaper to the Federal Ministry of Transport, how it assesses the question of costs, remained unanswered.

The third party in the alliance, Deutsche Bahn, is also stonewalling. It is currently not providing any information on possible price increases and delays. Bavaria’s transport minister is now calling for “finally clarity from Deutsche Bahn”. As possible reasons for cost increases, his company cites “rescheduling, increases in construction costs and problems with the supply chains”.

“The project is Bavaria’s BER,” says Andreas Barth from the “Pro Bahn” passenger association. The cost increases are comparable. Experts have been predicting this for a long time. For example, the Munich traffic planner Martin Vieregg predicted massive increases in prices and delays in both 2013 and 2018.

Is the second tunnel even necessary? Opponents such as the alternative Verkehrsclub Deutschland (VCD) complain that the money for public transport is not available elsewhere. Instead, critics repeatedly demand that the focus of the S-Bahn on the city center be broken up from all sides. More cross connections could therefore take a lot of traffic away from the main route.