German rail expansion plan will take decades, not years, says government
The German rail industry is quite upset with the recent comments made by representatives of the Federal Government regarding the Deutschlandtakt and its timetable. The German Federal Commissioner for Rail Transport Michael Theurer was quoted by German media ZDF as saying that the Deutschlandtakt is a project that might take over 50 years to realise. The main issue is that the project was planned to be ready by 2030.
The Deutschlandtakt entails that the national rail infrastructure should be expanded with priority and make it reach as far as possible. RailFreight.com contacted the rail freight association Die Guterbahnen (NEE), which counts 67 companies as members, for comments. “These statements from the Ministry of Transport are incomprehensible and the political signal is devastating”, said NEE’s executive director Peter Westenberger.
The traffic light coalition is not keeping its word on the Deutschlandtakt
One of the complaints exposed by Westenberger and the NEE is that the current ‘traffic light’ government coalition is not keeping its pledge to significantly improve the German rail network. “The current ruling traffic light coalition promised extensive acceleration steps and a priority expansion of rail in the coalition agreement of December 2021. However, nothing has happened yet”, Westenberger stated. He added that the statement made by Theurer came out of nowhere and may be a sign that the current ruling coalition is no longer supporting the Deutschlandtakt.
In 2016, the the legislature at the time approved the Federal Railroad Expansion Act, which included 180 expansion measures. However, “this ministry prefers to continue and even accelerate highway expansion”, Westenberger claimed. In addition to railway infrastructure enhancement, the Deutschlandtakt also includes the creation of a target timetable for all trains. A new implementation plan is supposed to be drawn up for the period after 2025, which according to Westenberger would cause a revision of the target timetable project. “It is clear that this will still identify additional infrastructure needs”, he concluded.
NEE is not the only rail association that expressed its disappointment in Theurer’s words. Dirk Flege, managing director of the Allianz pro-Schiene (Pro-Rail Alliance), took to LinkedIn to manifest its disapproval. “The extension of the rail network is overdue. It is already very crowded on the rails, both in passenger and freight traffic”, Flege stated. He continued by saying that he expects the federal government to take action to create a mandatory concept for the gradual implementation fo the Deutschlandtakt.