Deutsche Bahn CEO Shares Plans to Overhaul Germany’s Ageing Rail Network

Deutsche Bahn’s (DB) CEO, Richard Lutz, has announced that he is working closely with Germany’s Federal Transport Minister to flesh out a concept that will improve Germany’s rail infrastructure by removing network bottlenecks.

Capacity bottlenecks in Germany's rail network
Capacity bottlenecks in Germany’s rail network

He highlighted that this is a priority for his organisation, and necessary due to the rapidly increasing demand for both passenger and freight rail and also because the network’s already heavily used and prone to disruption.

Richard Lutz, Deutsche Bahn CEO, said:

“Never before have there been so many trains on the German network as there are these days. However, the route network on which this increasing demand is handled has not grown with it.

“At the same time, the infrastructure continues to deteriorate because many systems are outdated and prone to failure.

“The federal government and the railways changed course a few years ago. But a modernisation program involves an unprecedented number of construction sites and the current operational situation shows that we have a dilemma that can hardly be resolved in the short-term.

“Growing and modernising at the same time is no longer possible with good operational quality and punctuality on too many days and in too many corridors.”

Speaking at a press conference this week, Lutz said that to make Germany’s rail network fit for growth and a modal shift the focus should be overhauling the most heavily used sections.

He spoke of 3,500 kilometres of track in particular, where the average capacity use is at 125%, rising to more than 150% when construction work is underway.

Lutz believes that the answer lies with bundling together the next few years’ construction projects. Although this will involve longer track closures, he said these would be partnered with improved pre-planning with greater reliability and longer lead times for everyone involved.

After this is complete, he said there should then be time for expanding the network to improve capacity.

In conclusion, Richard Lutz, Deutsche Bahn CEO, said:

“We must and will tackle this together – the federal government, the railways and the entire industry.”

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