21 Nov 2023, 12:57
Benjamin Wehrmann

Germany’s railway reinforcement plans could be hit hard by debt brake ruling - media report

Der Spiegel

The plans to comprehensively modernise and expand Germany’s national railway company Deutsche Bahn could take a hit following a court ruling that leaves a gap of 60 billion euros in funds that were reserved for financing climate and sustainable transformation policies, news magazine Der Spiegel reported. Transport minister Volker Wissing from the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) had estimated the gap left in funding for Deutsche Bahn at 25 billion euros, half of which was due to the Constitutional Court’s ruling last week on the so-called ‘debt brake’ that forced the government to reshuffle its budgeting plans. According to the article, the other 12.5 billion euros that were supposed to come from the state-owned railway company’s own budget could also be in danger, as the government might not be able to feed into Deutsche Bahn’s coffers as initially planned for the next years. A gap of more than 5 billion euros could already appear in the company’s budgeting in 2024. The German railway service is grappling with a large share of delayed trains and other service disruptions that undermine the government’s promise to bolster the role of long-distance trains and public transport in the mobility transition, including plans for modernising thousands of kilometres of rail tracks and buying new trains.

Earlier this year, the coalition government agreed to earmark 45 billion euros until 2027 to improve the country’s railway network. However, the amount had already been reduced significantly during summer. Deutsche Bahn had planned to spend 20 billion euros on renovating the busiest tracks from the ground up, 6 billion on network expansion and electrification, 6 billion on digitalisation, and 3 billion on modernising railway stations, among other investments.

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