The German government is set to fund a €50 billion ten-year modernisation programme for its ailing Deutsche Bahn (DB) rail network.
The finance ministry’s proposals follow a combination of safety concerns over the ageing rail infrastructure and complaints from commuters about late-running trains. DB recently employed an efficiency tsar when punctuality fell to 70%, while it is reported that one in four trains ran late last month, plus more than a third of DB’s high-speed service.
While full details have not yet been released, the initiative will include around €15 billion for rail network maintenance work, with funds also expected to go towards the management of DB’s reported €20 billion debt.
Currently, the government, which has historically reviewed its rail plan every five years, spends around €3.5 billion per year on maintenance.
Meanwhile, DB – which is Europe’s largest rail operator – has launched a year-long €10.7 billion modernisation programme, which will see 1,500km of track upgraded, along with 650 stations and 300 bridges.
A spokesperson for DB told the German newspaper Bild that an extension to the government’s rail planning, from five to ten years, would be beneficial for the organisation.
The spokesperson said, “We would gain additional planning security, could coordinate our construction activities even better and further reduce the associated impact on rail traffic.”