VDV: Prices for the use of German railway lines threaten to become unaffordable from 2025

VDV: Prices for the use of German railway lines threaten to become unaffordable from 2025

VDV: Prices for the use of German railway lines threaten to become unaffordable from 2025

Will freight trains soon become unaffordable? Our picture (author Hermann Schmidtendorf) shows a train from the private company Metrans.
The German Federal Constitutional Court (BVG) has banned the federal government from using so-called special funds that had previously served other purposes to cover planned government spending. The resulting funding gap is forcing the government and budget politicians to fundamentally reassess planned expenditure.

But the objective financial need will not be reduced by the BVG’s ruling, warns the President of the Association of German Transport Companies (VDV), Ingo Wortmann. “Railroad primarily means railway infrastructure,” emphasizes Wortmann in a statement dated November 29, 2023. “If it is not intact or its capacity is not sufficient, the three rail transport systems that are essential for climate protection in Germany – freight transport, local passenger transport and long-distance transport – cannot pass. If double-digit track price increases are now announced for 2025, this will not be nearly bearable. If we don’t want to experience clear-cutting in Germany, the federal government must live up to its financial responsibility.”

The background to the VDV’s warning is that as a result of the inflation rates in personnel and maintenance costs, an average wage increase of six percent is planned for the 2024/2025 network timetable period. That sounds moderate. But the trick lies in the details.

Taking into account the legal regulations, a maximum of three percent of the fee increase should initially be allocated to local rail passenger transport. The cap in regional rail transport leads to disproportionate growth rates of 9.9 percent for freight railways and 14.3 percent for long-distance passenger rail transport. This perspective is exacerbated by a requirement from the Federal Network Agency, according to which increases in regional rail transport can be a maximum of 0.6 percent.

The VDV president calculates that there is a risk of a financial collapse in rail freight transport: “This leads to a distribution that in turn burdens freight transport with around 12 percent and long-distance transport with around 17 percent. These numbers speak for themselves. As an industry association, we only see the possibility that the federal government takes a decisive stance and promises financial support for route prices.” Otherwise, a further increase in road traffic compared to rail would be more than likely. hfs

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