At the start of the summit of transport ministers, who are meeting in Berlin to discuss the problems experienced by the railways this winter, the Pro-Rail Alliance has called on the federal government to increase spending on rail infrastructure by one billion euros. “Germany’s rail infrastructure is chronically underfunded,” said the managing director of the Pro-Rail Alliance on Monday in Berlin. In the 2011 budget, only 3.9 billion euros have been allocated for spending on the rail network, whereas 5 billion are required, said Flege. He pointed to comments made on national television by Saxony’s transport minister, Sven Morlok (from the FDP), in which he also called for an extra billion euros in funding.
However, Flege said that he could not understand why the minister had added that it was “irrelevant” where the extra money came from. “Rail customers can talk like that, but not a state minister who is a member of a party that is also in the federal government coalition,” said Flege. Rail infrastructure is a service of general interest and funding it is the responsibility of the federal government. To this end, it would be desirable if the federal government were to waive the 500 million euro dividend that it expects from the national railways. “The debate resulting from this year’s winter chaos on the railways has shown that people do not want rail services on the cheap. Travellers reasonably expect their public transport services to be weather-proof and to function properly. After two difficult winters, the federal government must address this issue”.
According to the Pro-Rail Alliance, the additional one billion euros is also needed to make the rail freight system fit for the future, ensuring that it can then absorb the 80 percent growth in rail freight transport by 2025 that has been calculated by Federal Environment Agency. “In order for transport of freight to become more environmentally friendly and efficient, the expansion of railway lines must increase and modernisation be made a high priority,” said the Pro-Rail Alliance’s managing director.