09 Jul 2020, 13:25
Kerstine Appunn

Associations propose revival of German railway tracks totalling 4000 km

Clean Energy Wire

In Germany, 238 railway connections with a total length of 4,016 kilometres could be reactivated, the Association of German Transport Companies (VDV) and the Pro-Rail Alliance have suggested. "This would make it possible to reconnect 291 towns and municipalities with more than 3 million people to the German rail network and thus further increase the attractiveness of this climate-friendly mode of transport," said Jörgen Boße, Chairman of the VDV Committee for Railway Infrastructure. Around 70 percent of people in Germany live in medium-sized and small towns or in rural areas. Extending environmentally friendly transport options was not only a matter of climate protection, but also of the equal living conditions, Boße says.

It is up to the state that the line is located in to decide whether a revival will be attempted. Local interest groups often push for re-opening formerly existing connections which then have to be made ready for operation by the railway owner. 

Between 1994 and 2020, connections with a total length of 933 kilometres for passenger transport and 364 kilometres for freight transport were put back into service, according to Pro-Rail Alliance. However, during this period, considerably more lines were cancelled for passenger transport than reactivated: over 3,600 kilometres. The balance for freight transport is also clearly negative. The total length of the rail network is currently around 38,500 km - in the rail reform year 1994 it was still 44,600 km.

But the framework conditions for re-opening more of the old infrastructure are favourable: the German government is advocating the doubling of rail passenger numbers by 2030 over 2018 and wants to increase the market share of freight transport on rails to 25 percent. Germany’s largest railway operator DB Netz last year announced that no more infrastructure would be retired in the future.

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