July 13, 2016

German rail network poorly funded, says study

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GERMANY's per capita investment in rail infrastructure ranks poorly alongside that of other major European economies, according to a study published on July 12 by German transport consultancy SCI Verkehr and Allianz pro Schiene, a coalition of 22 non-profit organisations and over 120 companies from across the German rail industry.

The study notes that Germany invested €56 per head in 2015 compared with €72 in Italy, €141 in the Netherlands, €152 in Britain, €192 in Austria, and €383 in Switzerland.

Allianz pro Schiene argues that Germany needs to invest at least €80 per head. "Although the German federal transport ministry is congratulating itself for record amounts of investment in the railways, the German per capita amount in 2015 is poor," says the alliance's managing director Mr Dirk Flege. "A comparison over several years shows a long-term German trend. The first year of the new performance and funding agreement, which the federal government negotiated with German Rail (DB), has unfortunately only led to a moderate increase in rail network investment. In the previous year, Germany invested €49 per person in its rail network."

Allianz per capita graph

Per capita investment in rail infrastructure, 2015 (Source: Allianz pro Schiene/SCI Verkehr)

Flege criticises the federal government for investing "considerably more" in road construction than rail projects, in contrast to policies of Germany's southern neighbours, Austria and Switzerland. "The Alpine states are facilitating the modal shift in transport with targeted investments in their rail networks, whereas in Germany, even with the latest federal infrastructure plan, it's business as usual with the wrong transport policy agenda," he says.

The study warns that underinvestment has implications for rail's ability to compete beyond Germany's borders, particularly for freight operators. "We urgently need more capacity for rail freight transport, but in fact the very opposite is happening" says SCI Verkehr managing director Ms Maria Leenen. "Germany is a brake on European rail freight. With our infrastructure deficits we are increasingly becoming a bottleneck on the trans-European routes. Our neighbours have done their infrastructure homework whereas Germany's politicians are still dithering."

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