Speaking at the opening press conference of InnoTrans 2012 today in Berlin, Pörner says that manufacturers, railway operators and the environment could all benefit from an investment plan to replace the network´s oldest and dirtiest diesel units.

He says that there are approximately 3200 locomotives in Germany today, 600 of which are over 30 years old and still have their original engines, many of which do not even meet EU Level 1 emission standards. All of these locomotives are owned by private operators because German Rail (DB) has replaced all of its older engines. But with these operators currently struggling to secure finance for new rolling stock investments, the VDB proposes that the federal government awards an environmental bonus of 20% of the cost price of a new locomotive to spur new procurement.

"It is very important that we get this 20% because a 10% incentive would not be enough to get the impulse required to invest," Pörner told IRJ.

Pörner says funds for this programme would come from Germany´s Valued Added Tax (VAT) which is currently 19%, with around €80m required annually to fund the programme if all 600 locomotives are replaced. And while Pörner say that VDB has been in discussions with the current German federal transport ministry and ministry of economics, the proposal is designed with next German government in mind.

"We have been working on this proposal for 12 months and we are hopeful of getting some movement by spring 2014," Pörner says. "Germany has elections in autumn 2013 and this is one of the proposals we would like to make to the new government."