DB reactivates 20 decommisioned routes

Deutsche Bahn will revive 20 lines with a total of 245 kilometers of track. “Every kilometer of track is active climate protection”, says DB Network Board Member Jens Bergmann. Deutsche Bahn presented its plans on Tuesday at a joint press conference with the industry associations Allianz pro Schiene and the Association of German Transport Companies (VDV) in Berlin.

The routes are the first part of previously closed routes, on which passenger or freight traffic will be back in the future. In the past few months, a DB team of experts identified a route portfolio throughout Germany with a total length of around 1,300 kilometers for which there is traffic potential. For a large part, it is worthwhile to restart the system after weighing up the costs and benefits, according to the state operator.

More people and more goods on rail

“Together with the federal states and the responsible authorities, we will bring disused routes back to life”, says Jens Bergmann, Board Member for Infrastructure Planning and Projects at DB Netz. “We are initially tackling 20 routes nationwide, with further connections to follow in the coming years. Our goal: We want to attract more people to the railways, to get more goods onto the rails. Every kilometer of track is active climate protection.” Recently, DB moved forward their goal to become climate neutral with 10 years, to 2040.

The federal, state and regional authorities together with DB decide on route reactivation. Analysis and evaluation of the potential routes were carried out in close collaboration with the partners. DB continues to advise on feasibility studies and planning – including the revitalization of routes that belong to others. These make up almost two thirds of the identified routes.

Further reactivation

“The reactivation of disused routes stands for the comeback of the rail in the area and thus for a more climate-friendly transport mix” says Dirk Flege, Managing Director of Allianz pro Schiene. He calls on the next federal government to lower the hurdles for further reactivations. “The previous evaluation criteria ignore the social aspects of a rail connection and take too little into account the environmental advantages of rail transport.”

Martin Henke, VDV Managing Director Railway: “The decision of DB AG to take another step towards developing the area and thus expanding the network after decades of withdrawal is historic. The Federal Government has created good conditions for this with the new Municipal Transport Financing Act, but must now also adapt the outdated conditions of the ‘Standardized Assessment’ of such projects.”

Previously: more cancelled than activated

Since the 1994 rail reform, significantly more routes of local rail passenger transport have been cancelled in Germany (over 3,600 kilometres) than have been reactivated (over 900 kilometres). The most common cause of route closures in the past has been the falling number of users. The Allianz pro Schiene observed a downward spiral: An unattractive offer led to a decline in user numbers. In response to the falling number of users, the offer was further dismantled, resulting in an even further decline in demand. In the end, rail traffic was completely stopped.

There has also been a rethink at the largest infrastructure operator in Germany, DB Netz AG. In December 2019, DB Netz announced that it would no longer shut down any route infrastructure in the future. Below, a map is shown of the routes that DB plans to reactivate.

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Author: Esther Geerts

Editor of RailTech.com

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