The German railway and inland shipping sector is “disappointed” in the budget
The German railway sector association Allianz pro Schiene calls the draft state budget for 2023 ‘disappointing’. The organization mainly blames the government for investing a lot of money in the construction of new roads, while the money for investments in railway infrastructure in the country remains limited. In addition, interest groups in inland shipping also state that German inland shipping needs more money for adequate maintenance and modernization.
Simone van der Lee
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According to Allianz pro Schiene, the budget, announced on 1 July, shows that in 2023, € 3.86 billion will be invested in the construction and development of national roads in the country. 2 billion euros are invested in the German railway network. ‘The budget is not even enough to absorb the rising construction costs in the railway infrastructure’, director Dirk Flege blames the German cabinet.
The organization emphasizes that there is a rapidly increasing demand for freight transport by rail. And passenger transport is now also experiencing an increasing number of passengers. In this way, according to the association, the infrastructure is greatly slowed down in meeting this demand. ‘Important themes such as the digitization and electrification of the railway network are being postponed by the government with this financial planning,’ says Flege.
Direct negative consequences
Nevertheless, the organization also sees a positive development. For example, the budget for small construction projects on the railway network will be increased to 75 million euros, an increase of 56 million euros compared to the budget for 2022. According to Allianz pro Schiene, this would allow bottlenecks on the railway network to be removed more quickly.
Hans-Willem Vroon, director of the Dutch interest group RailGood, also expresses his concerns about the German budget proposal. He argues that it is impossible to increase the railway market share from 19% to 25% in Germany by 2030 if there is insufficient investment in infrastructure. Because so many countries use the German railway network, he believes that the German budget also has great significance for e.g. Netherlands. ‘If Germany lags behind, it will have a direct negative impact on market share in freight rail transport from neighboring countries,’ he says.
Allianz pro Schiene now hopes that this draft budget will be further improved this year. Flege also wants the government to use the so-called future Climate and Conversion Fund, intended for investments in the climate, for rail transport. ‘The government must provide billions of euros in extra resources for rail transport from the Climate and Conversion Fund as soon as possible. Otherwise, the climate goals will not be achieved, and we will not be able to meet the rapidly growing demand ‘, he emphasizes.
According to the budget proposal, in 2023, 1.35 billion will also be spent on German waterways. In 2022, an additional 1.7 billion was invested in waterways. In addition, the budget for the promotion of combined transport is now 62.7 million euros, which is lower than in 2022, reports BÖB (an association of German inland ports) and VBW (the association of European inland navigation and waterways). They said that during the negotiations on the 2022 budget, they had warned that a “significant amount” would be missing from the 2023 budget.
The associations state that although there have been several funds available for domestic traffic in the past, this is not the case now. “This is what domestic shipping and VBW have been warning about for a long time. The waterways, which can be used to realize a traffic change, are threatened with a further backlog in renovation and a further deterioration of the condition of many buildings, “says Marcel Lohbeck, director of both organizations.
However, the organization is positive about increasing the subsidy to make German inland shipping more sustainable and modern. 60 million will be made available for this, which is 10 million more than the year before.
The German government says this year’s war in Ukraine will have a negative impact on the available budget. In addition to the amounts allocated to support Ukraine, measures are also planned to secure the energy supply.