03. July 2014

Germany falling behind on network construction

EU per capita comparison: Rail investments international ranking

In which rail network league does Germany want to play? At a minimum, the German Pro-Rail Alliance is calling for investment levels like in Italy. Germany’s European neighbours invest considerably more.

Berlin, July 3, 2014. In comparison with its European neighbours, Germany has for years invested to little in its railway network. According to calculations made by the Pro-Rail Alliance and the transport consultants SCI Verkehr for 2013, Germany once comes out near the lower end of the ranking of selected European countries. The league table of the selected countries’ per capita investment in their railway infrastructure was as follows: The list is headed by Switzerland, with 366 euros spending per citizen, followed by Austria, with spending of 199 euros per person. Both alpine states have for years budgeted for greater spending on rail infrastructure than on the roads. But network construction is also booming in other countries: Sweden invested 160 euros per capita, followed by the Netherlands with 139 euros and the UK spending 120 euros. Policy makers also sent out clear signals in favour of rail infrastructure in Italy (81 euros), whereas Germany’s investment of 54 euros per person leaves it in danger of losing touch with its powerful European neighbours. Out of all the countries examined in 2013, only France (47 euros) and recession-hit Spain (27 euros) spent less on its rail infrastructure than Germany.

Per capita state rail infrastructure investment in 2013
in selected European counties. Figures in euros
Spain, France, Germany, Italy, UK, Netherlands, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland

“The low per capita figures clearly illuminate Germany’s half-hearted approach to sustainable transport policies,” said the managing director of the Pro-Rail Alliance on, Dirk Flege, on Thursday in Berlin. “Unfortunately, a review of the last years shows that this is not a one-off lapse but part of a long-term trend. In addition, Germany has for years invested far more money in its highway infrastructure than in the railways, criticised Flege. “As transit countries, Switzerland and Austria are improving their rail networks with the specific goal of shifting freight transport from trucks to trains, whereas Germany is in danger of missing the opportunity for getting a large portion of its freight transport onto the railways.”

Flege called for a rapid increase in state funding for Germany’s railway network. “Germany must invest at least one and a half times the amount of money in its rail network than it has to date if it doesn’t want to permanently join the ranks of the countries in economic crisis,” said the Pro-Rail Alliance manager. Flege put the actual figure at 6.5 billion euros, which is the equivalent of 80 euros per person. “Italian investment levels is what we really ought be spending on our railway network,” added Flege.

Is Germany in danger of losing contact with the leaders? Dirk Flege answers. (German)

“The railways are booming worldwide. The continuing growth in metropolitan areas and shipping ports is a real challenge to the railways’ ability to perform,” said Maria Leenen from the consultants SCI Verkehr. In our current report on global transport markets, we forecast that rail freight transportation will increase 11 per cent by 2018. For passenger rail transport the forecast is higher at 18 per cent. Even in Europe there will still be an increase in demand for rail transport, with forecasts of 5 per cent for freight transport and 7 per cent for passenger transport.

Investments in infrastructure are still lagging behind these developments. Particularly in Southern Europe, the economic crisis is having a noticeable effect on state investment in the railways. This makes it all the more surprising that many countries are spending more money per person on their networks that Germany,” said the SCI managing director. At the same time, Germany’s often old and over-used infrastructure is in urgent need of repair. “In spite of Germany’s good economic position, which is considerably better than many countries in Europe, investment in the railways is stagnating, increasing the funding back-log for the railway system as a whole. The lack of funding in this country will have an appreciable negative impact on rail transport growth.”

State investment in railway infrastructure 2013
in comparison with the roads. Figures in per cent. 100% = investment in highway network
Germany – Switzerland – Austria

Additional information (German)