The key effect of the plans will be to reduce the amount local authorities have to contribute to new transport projects in their areas from 20% of costs to around 5%. This is to ensure that Baden-Württemberg gains maximum benefit from major changes in federal policy and funding arrangements. This is particularly important for new light rail schemes, which historically have relied on local funding.

In February, the German government provided the country’s 16 federal states with more than €10bn of additional rail investment funding to reopen lines and for electrification. The funding will be spent between 2021 and 2031, with more than €2bn available annually from 2026 to 2031. This compares with just €333m in 2019.

This policy change was part of efforts to mitigate climate change by promoting public transport and was prior to the recent coronavirus stimulus package.

Line reopening

Line re-opening projects that meet the 1.0+ cost:benefit analysis threshold are now eligible for federal funding to cover 90% of planning and construction costs, while schemes not meeting the threshold, but where there is local support and funding, can now attract up to 60% federal funding for the first time. Baden-Württemberg will pay 57.5% of any remaining costs

Federal funding is now available for the modernisation and renewal of existing light rail systems and covers 75% of construction costs and 10% of planning costs. Baden-Württemberg will fund 50% of the remaining costs, reducing the contributions for local government to around 5% in the areas concerned.

For other heavy rail investment projects, such as modernisation or refurbishment work, the state will contribute 50-60% of any costs remaining after federal and other contributions, for example from DB Networks.

“Our goal is an investment offensive in the railways,” says Hermann. “We want to initiate significantly more projects and thus access a large part of the federal funds available for projects in the state.”

Projects identified by Baden-Württemberg which will benefit from the new regime include electrification of the Basle - Erzingen line and the planned extension of electrification from Radolfzell to Friedrichshafen; expansion of the Neckar-Alb regional light rail network and reopening disused lines. Studies are underway to evaluate the best reopening candidates.