German groups demand more rail investment

State rail firm, leading NGOs, launch concerted push for more government support

Germany's state rail utility and the country's leading environmental NGOs have called for greater government investment in rail infrastructure in a ten-point plan published on Friday.

German Railways (DB) and a coalition of NGOs, including Friends of the Earth and WWF Germany, claim the government has failed to meet commitments to rail investment made in its election manifesto in 1998. "The government said it would invest DM10bn [euros 5.1bn] per year in rail, but it's only been DM6bn," DB spokesperson Christina Geissler-Schilt told ENDS Daily today.

In the document, the groups call on the government to balance funding and economic instruments for rail, air, road, and water transport, and to reduce "competitive disadvantages" suffered by rail. Expansion of Germany's rail network is now urgently needed, they argue. It has only been extended by 1,000km since 1945, whereas 350,000km of new roads have built in that time. The national ecotax programme introduced by the Red/Green government must now be harmonised to eliminate "counterproductive" tax exemptions for air and water transport which "do not lead to sustainability," according to the plan.

The groups are also calling for a more effective rail noise protection programme, again through increased government investment. Germany currently has a far more extensive network of noise barriers for road than rail, they say.

Follow Up:
DB, tel: +49 30 29 70 and press release.

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