Berlin and Brandenburg want to advance the expansion of the railway network in the capital region and are demanding further billions in investments from the federal government. At the railway summit on Friday, the federal states, the federal government and Deutsche Bahn agreed to discuss the expansion of eight additional routes in a new task force.
Together with the already estimated costs of 8.5 billion euros for the expansion of the rail infrastructure planned in the large-scale i2030 project, the necessary billions of euros in investments would increase even further. “It is a two-digit billion amount for the next ten years,” said Brandenburg’s Prime Minister Dietmar Woidke (SPD) after the meeting with Berlin’s Governing Mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) and representatives of the federal government and the railways. “We all have to get faster together.”
The federal government in particular should raise this. “Of course, additional federal funds are necessary for this,” said Giffey. But the Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Transport, Daniela Kluckert (FDP), who was present from the federal side, could not make any concrete funding commitments on Friday. The long-awaited summit meeting remained primarily an exchange of warm words.
However, the appointment, with the state heads Giffey and Woidke well staffed, shows how seriously Berlin and Brandenburg are now taking the expansion of the rail network. “We have a massive need for expansion in rail transport,” said Giffey. If you want to advance climate protection and the turnaround in traffic, you cannot do without a better track infrastructure.
In addition to the already known plans of the i2030 project, including the expansion of the route from Spandau to Falkensee and the decision made last week to rebuild the Potsdamer Stammbahn as a regional and long-distance route, the new plans envisage eight further connections, whose expansion in the task force should be discussed.
Among them is the double-track expansion and the electrification of the Ostbahn from Berlin to the Polish Küstrin-Kiez. The route is primarily used for regional traffic, but has “a very important relief function for international freight traffic,” said the railway representative for Berlin, Alexander Kaczmarek. The previous main route via Frankfurt (Oder) is reaching its limits.
The reconstruction of the northern railway between Wilhelmsruh and Hohen-Neuendorf for the trains towards the Baltic Sea is also to be discussed in the task force. Just like the electrification of the southern Berlin inner ring between Schöneberg and Treptow to Ostkreuz, which has recently been increasingly clearly demanded by many involved, in order to gain an additional relief route for the Berlin railway junction. “We have to raise all the reserves that we have in order to improve our infrastructure,” said Kaczmarek.
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All of this should now be clarified by the new task force of the four partners, which will meet for the first time in the coming weeks. “It’s about setting priorities with a high level of commitment by the next railway summit in 2023,” said Giffey. In addition, the committee should resolve existing problems that are currently delaying rapid project progress, Woidke added. “The task force is about eliminating problems and obstacles.”
This has not always been the case since the i2030 project began. With the Stammbahn, for example, Berlin and Brandenburg could not decide for five years whether the route should be built as a regional or S-Bahn connection – and thus lost valuable time. The current state governments of the two countries now seem to have realized that things are better together. “The fact is, together we bring a significantly higher fighting weight to the mat,” said Woidke.