Source: Clean Energy Wire, 2020-06-30
The German government is doubling its annual investment in rail infrastructure in a bid to make its entire network greener, more efficient and more reliable. The Rail Transport Master Plan, announced by Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer today, will see yearly spending on track expansion and new construction increased to €3bn a year, starting with immediate effect.
Scheuer said the main drivers behind the “Rail Pact” were climate change and digitalisation: “The railway is the first form of transport that we can make climate neutral, we therefore have to move traffic from the roads to the rails.” Key goals are to double passenger numbers by 2030 (currently around 2.6bn per year) and significantly increase freight transport, with the aim to eat into air travel and road haulage capacities. Around 100,000 jobs are expected to be created at state rail operator Deutsche Bahn alone.
Critics are sceptical of the plan's importance, however. Speaking to broadcaster Bayern 2, Green Party leader Anton Hofreiter called the minister's announcement “a show event” that lacked any new plans and said real modernisation would cost “an additional several billion euros”.
Germany’s largely state-owned rail network is a primary focus of the country’s transport sector transition plans, with a reduction in less climate-friendly passenger and freight transport modes seen as key to cutting emissions. Deutsche Bahn reportedly wants to use 100% renewable power by 2038, for example. However, rail freight figures remain stubbornly stagnant and the use of planes and trucks was steadily on the rise before the coronavirus crisis struck.