This means that €8.2bn will now be made available each year to spend on urban and regional passenger rail to improve both infrastructure and rolling stock.
The federal states have been lobbying for a reduction in the rate at which track access charges are being increased. Access charges have risen sharply in the past and swallowed a large chunk of the available funding. The federal government says it has listened to these concerns and in future track access charges will only increase by 1.8% a year, which the German Railway Industry Association (VDB) regards as big victory.
"The political agreement can finally provide the German railway industry with the necessary clarity and planning security as a provider of regional and local trains and infrastructure equipment," says the VDB's CEO Mr Ben Möbius. "The financial basis has now been secured for regional passenger rail transport in Germany for the next few years. With 2.5 billion passengers a year, regional rail is the backbone of mobility in Germany."
However, Möbius does not want to see long-distance passenger services being forced to pick up the bill to pay for the new regional rail track access agreement. "You cannot solve one problem by creating a new one," Möbius points out.
The new legislation should also pave the way for increased competition on and deregulation of the German rail network, for example by improving access for operators to train maintenance facilities.