BMVIT has appointed Eurailscout and Erdmann Software, Germany, to gather data on "representative" sections of the network totalling 5000km, with the initial phase of inspections focussing on the area between Leipzig and Berlin. This will give the ministry an independently-produced database on DB's assets and allow it to establish whether DB is meeting its contractual obligations on infrastructure standards.

"We want to modernise the railway and we will invest more in the network over next few years," says federal transport minister Mr Alexander Dobrindt. "This means we need to focus more strongly on ensuring that DB is complying with the agreed quality criteria and investing federal money in a targeted manner."

According to BMVIT DB will be allocated €2.75bn this year by the government for maintenance of the network.