Track construction work on the Riedbahn between Riedstadt and Goddelau. Deutsche Bahn AG / Benjamin Kedziora
The German Federal Government and Deutsche Bahn (DB) have presented the largest and most comprehensive infrastructure programme for the rail network and stations since the 1994 railway reform. This was done at the Federal Ministry of Digital Affairs and Transport’s Rail Summit in Frankfurt last week. This 45 billion euro project aims to make train traffic more consistently punctual and to create the conditions to achieve the transport policy goals for passenger and freight traffic.
The programme in Germany focuses on six main areas. The first is the rehabilitation of the highly congested network and the associated expansion to a high-performance network with a length of 9,000 kilometres. The second is clearing the investment backlog and upgrading the railway network in the area. Third is capacity-increasing measures such as additional transfer points, switches and denser signalling for more stability and better train service.
The fourth is the digitalisation of the rail network with the Germany-wide rollout of the European Train Control System (ETCS). This will create up to 30 per cent more capacity on the existing network. The fifth area of focus is the targeted expansion and new construction of lines to eliminate bottlenecks and thus also make the “Deutschlandtakt” possible, a newtimetable of all passenger trains which would synchronise both long-distance and regional traffic. Finally, the last area of focus is the large-scale modernisation of stations throughout Germany and the development of stations of the future with better comfort and a wider range of services for passengers along the high-performance corridors and in the extensive network.
“Enormous construction workload”
Richard Lutz, Chairman of the Management Board of Deutsche Bahn AG, says that the programme will be challenging. “We are renewing and modernising the infrastructure with a programme that is unprecedented in DB’s history. A big thank you goes to the federal government for its commitment to provide the additional funds of up to 45 billion euros needed for this.”
“It is now up to us, together with the construction industry, to roll up our sleeves. The truth is, however, that the enormous construction workload will also be challenging for travellers and freight transport companies. But there is no alternative to tackling the renovation backlog. If all partners in the construction and railway industry pull together with us, this tour de force will succeed.”
Renovation of 40 line sections
The central lever for qualitatively better rail service is the general renovation of a total of 40 line sections in the highly congested network by 2030. The stations along the lines will also be modernised and upgraded. In order to be able to carry out the ambitious workload, the line sections will be closed for several months at a time. After completion of the work, the lines should be less susceptible to disruptions and significantly more efficient.
The general overhaul of the heavily used sections will begin next year on the Riedbahn between Frankfurt/Main and Mannheim. The Hamburg-Berlin and Emmerich-Oberhausen lines will follow in 2025. Along the Riedbahn alone, DB will also significantly upgrade 20 stations in the course of the refurbishment. For the duration of the general renovation, DB is working together with the affected railway undertakings and the local transport authorities to develop an efficient transport concept.
Subject to pending parliamentary resolutions on financing and more detailed findings in the context of detailed planning, the federal government and DB, with the participation of the industry, have planned the following sequence for the general renovation of the rail network: