German budget for rail ‘not enough to absorb rising construction costs’
The German federal budget for railways that was approved by the Federal Cabinet on Friday is “not even enough to absorb the increases in construction costs for the rail infrastructure”, says the non-profit transport alliance Pro-Rail Alliance. It expected more from the newly established government, which promised to put rail before road when it took office last November.
With a proposed fund of 3.86 billion, almost twice as much will be available next year for the construction and expansion of federal roads as for the capacity expansion of the rail network, for which 2 billion euros are estimated to be set aside.
‘Not much better’
Although the budget is only final after parliamentary consent has been reached, the current draft is nothing better than what was presented in May this year, according to the industry group. At that time, they also fiercely criticised the way that rail was prioriotised, or rather not prioritised in comparison with road.
“The second government budget is also disappointing. Just like the first one, it bars the way forward in transport policy”, complained Managing Director Dirk Flege. “Just like the previous governments, this coalition is focusing on the construction of new roads and is neglecting future investments in the rail infrastructure.
Increasing demand for rail
Pro-Rail Alliance referred to the rapidly increasing demand for goods transport by rail and the boom in passenger transport triggered by the 9-euro ticket. “The draft budget slows down demand on the infrastructure side. Central future issues such as the digitisation and electrification of the rail network continue to languish in the financial planning of the federal government”, said the Pro-Rail Alliance Managing Director.
The disappointment coincides with a period of intense construction work on the railway network in Germany. Although these words cause a lot of disruption and frustration, they are also considered very needed to be able to cope with the growing demand for rail freight.
The German federal government took office last November, and one of its first manifestations was that it would invest in rail “considerably more than road”. The coalition government’s objectives were to lower infrastructure fees, accelerate Digital Automatic Coupling, strengthen single-wagon traffic, and promote combined transport terminals.
The federal government had stated that infrastructure investments were a key political priority and that substantial amounts would be invested in it. However, the government’s budget committee proceeded with some budgetary adjustments that did not meet the initial commitments.