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Press release 23.10.2009

Comparison of railway investments in Europe

Germany lags behind Italy

Berlin. Europe’s major industrial economies invest large sums of money in their railway network. An investigation by the German Pro-Rail Alliance and the transport consultants SCI Verkehr has shown that Germany is following its own special national course and runs the risk of being left behind internationally. The investigation compared the per capita public investment made by European states in their railway infrastructure in 2008. The results are as follows: Switzerland invested 284 euros per citizen, followed by Austria with 205 euros per person. Both countries traditionally invest considerably more money in the railways than in the roads. However, other European countries are also working at full speed to improve their networks: Great Britain spends 136 euros per capita on its rail infrastructure, and The Netherlands (105 euros), Sweden (104 euros) Spain (84 euros) and France (80) are also sending out clear signals about the importance of their railways. Germany, which spends 47 euros per citizen, lags far down the ranking list behind Italy (60 euros per capita).

The managing director of the Pro-Rail Alliance, Dirk Flege, criticised the fact that Germany’s special course on transport will lead directly into a dead-end. “The powerful automobile lobby has for decades ensured that the quality of Germany’s road infrastructure exceeds the railways many times over,” said Flege on Friday in Berlin, and called on the new German government to make vigorous changes. “We will be very interested to see what decisions are taken at the upcoming budget discussions,” he said and demanded that the new government should make sure that Germany is at least brought up to “Italian levels”. “That would be 60 euros of federal spending on the railway infrastructure per person.”

“At 47 euros per citizen, Germany’s state infrastructure investments are ranked at the bottom end of the scale,” said Lars Neumann from the consultants SCI Verkehr. Even looking at it from another point of view does not change the results. “Based on a comparison between economic performance and state investment volumes, the conclusions are even more gloomy,” said Neumann. Whereas the leading European countries are on the same level as emerging economies like China, Russia or India, German investment as a proportion of economic performance drops even lower down the scale. “Measured against GDP, Germany’s commitment to the railways is only marginally ahead of Turkey’s. With their below average willingness to invest in their domestic market, politicians are gambling away the German railway industry’s worldwide leading position,” said the SCI Verkehr manager.

Peter Mnich from the Institute for Railway Technology at Berlin’s technical university explained that in 2009, China will for the first time spend more on the railways than on the roads. This year’s investment on China’s railway infrastructure will be 79 billion euros. For the current year, Peking will only be spending 78 billion euros on the roads. “China’s reputation as a country with a booming automobile industry is not not justified,” said Mnich, who specialises in Asia, and emphasised that as part of China’s latest five year plan there has been “a strategic decision in favour of the railways” to make its transport system “fit for the future”. The expert for railway technology pointed out that measured against economic performance, Peking’s investment policies have left Germany “lagging far behind”.


A steep decline per citizen: The neighbours do more for their networks than Germany


Investments in the railways compared with the roads (=100%) in 2008


Allianz pro Schiene is the German alliance for the promotion of environmentally friendly and safe rail transport. It unites 16 non-profit organisations: the environmental organisations BUND, NABU, Deutsche Umwelthilfe and NaturFreunde Deutschlands; the consumer groups Pro Bahn, DBV and VCD; the automobile clubs ACE and ACV; the three rail unions TRANSNET, GDBA and GDL as well as the rail organisations BDEF, BF Bahnen, VBB and VDEI. Its member associations represent more than 2 million individual members. Allianz pro Schiene is supported by 93 companies operating in the rail sector.


Dr. Barbara Mauersberg
Press Officer

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