“We are looking at some major investments in the future, and rail has priority but there are a lot of challenges and it is complex,” Scheuer says. “Building rail is expensive and takes a long time, but rail is extremely state-of-the-art. However, we must ensure that citizens are involved at an early stage.

“We want to support rail to help meet our climate change goals. We are reducing noise emissions and encouraging digitalisation.

“Our German national regular-interval timetable project will facilitate interchange between services and release more tracks for freight. It is a mammoth project and a huge step forward to enhance quality.

“Our 2030 national infrastructure plan calls for an investment of €270bn of which around 40% is for rail. This will enable Germany to make a huge commitment to the continent. Of course it will take time to develop projects, and we have an acceleration programme before parliament. ETCS will increase capacity on the rail network by 20% without a single piece of new track, and 70% of the network will be electrified.”

“Digitalisation is the most important element in the master plan,” Scheuer says. “Innovations will guarantee the future of rail. This year, for the first time, we want to have a new rail research programme covering things such as noise reduction and battery-charged trains. We want lower emissions and even to become emission-free by 2030.”