LOCAL referenda held alongside the German elections for the European Parliament on June 9 delivered two very different verdicts on projects to build new light rail systems in Bavaria.

Voters in Erlangen, north of Nuremberg, voted by 52.4% to 47.6% in favour of continuing work on the StUB Nuremberg project, a 25km light rail line running north from the Am Wegfeld terminus of Line 4 in Nuremberg to Erlangen and then west to Herzogenaurach.

A planning contract to develop StUB was agreed in 2018. The project is currently estimated to cost €300m with the first section planned to open in the late 2020s.

Rejection in Regensburg

Plans to build a 15km, two-line network in Regensburg were rejected by 53.6% of voters. The result is only binding for one year without a further referendum, but the city council has announced that work on the project will now cease. In June 2018 councillors had voted by 51 to one in favour of developing the new network after rejecting a bus rapid transit project.

Project studies showed a positive cost:benefit ratio of 1.54 and a total cost of €1.2bn. Opponents argued that this was too expensive, although Regenburg would have contributed only €334m with much of the remainder provided by the Bavarian and federal governments.

Other towns around Regensburg had envisaged the new light rail lines as providing the basis for a new tram-train network using dual-voltage LRVs similar to those developed in Chemnitz in Saxony.

The authorities in the Schwandorf, Neumarkt, Kelheim and Cham districts hoped that this would include the reopening of three branch lines totalling over 21km to reconnect towns with the rail network and provide them with direct links to Regensburg. Without the light rail system in this city, these plans are now unlikely to proceed.

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