Dhe federal government wants to push ahead with the renovation of the ailing railway network. The general renovation of the first rail corridor should start in 2024, said Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing and Bahn boss Richard Lutz on Wednesday in Berlin. “It can’t stay the way it is,” said Wissing. “I want to tackle the problems and solve them by making them a top priority.” Because better rail transport is essential for the climate goals of the federal government. However, these are currently not accessible with the condition of the railway. A general overhaul of the most important rail corridors is intended to develop the heavily used network into a stability anchor for the entire rail network by 2030. The funding for this is secured, said the FDP politician, but without naming any figures.
In concrete terms, construction work should be combined in such a way that there are no new disruptions later on the same section due to work that is only then due. In addition, routes should not only be repaired one-to-one, but also upgraded for more performance. The aim is also to ensure that trains at construction sites are shorter and therefore have to switch to the opposite track with less disruption.
Bahn boss Richard Lutz explained that the occupancy rate is currently 125 percent on 3,500 kilometers of track, even without construction sites. By the end of the decade, this heavily used network threatens to grow to more than 9,000 kilometers. The current quality of the rail system is not acceptable to anyone. A radical change of direction is needed.
“At the moment there is more going on on our networks than ever before,” said Bahn boss Lutz. The accumulation of more and more traffic on an infrastructure that is already scarce and further restricted by construction activity leads to traffic jams and delays with massive effects on all customers in passenger and freight transport. Wissing criticized the fact that 200 freight trains are currently standing still. “It’s dramatic, it can’t continue.”
Lutz had already sounded the alarm at the end of May and complained about the dilapidated rail network: “We have a dilemma that can hardly be resolved in the short term: grow and modernize at the same time.” The operating situation is critical, delays are increasing, there is a record number of construction sites and the need for modernization will continue climb. At the time, he also admitted that Deutsche Bahn would miss its punctuality target of 80 percent in long-distance traffic and would be “significantly away from it”. Wissing now said: “I expect that in the future we will be able to set the clock by the train again and I am confident that we can do it.” Wissing wants to streamline the Deutsche Bahn group structure and involve the Ministry of Transport more closely.
The railways play an important role in the traffic light coalition’s climate protection goals for 2030. The number of passengers is expected to double by then, and the share of rail freight traffic will increase significantly.