Volker Wissing has been in office for six months and now he wants to tackle the problems at the railways. One requirement: reliability. He also has clear ideas about the announced “general renovation”.
Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing sees an urgent need for action at Deutsche Bahn in order to achieve more reliable operation for millions of passengers and freight train customers.
“It can’t stay the way it is at the moment. The railways can and must get better,” said the FDP politician to the dpa. He agreed with rail boss Richard Lutz. In order to analyze where exactly the problems lie, he had many discussions with the state-owned group, among others. “The results flowed into a concept that shows how we want to tackle the problems.” It should be presented later this month.
“I want the railway to become a real alternative for the citizens,” said Wissing. “The railway must be able to inspire, with attractive trains, efficient frequencies and, above all, punctuality. I want to ensure that the necessary measures are taken to keep society mobile.” That includes the train. “I see deficits and I want to eliminate them,” said the minister. “I’m ambitious.”
Bahn boss announces “general renovation”
The railway is currently struggling with operational problems. The goal of achieving punctuality of percent this year in long-distance traffic was conceded to Lutz. With the punctuality rate, percent of the trains should not have arrived at their destination more than six minutes late.
The rail boss also announced a “general renovation” of important routes. The aim is therefore to set up a “high-performance network”. However, rail customers have to be prepared for closures for construction sites and diversions. The background is the goal of expanding rail traffic, but combating the renovation backlog in the network. “We have to approach this issue more fundamentally and radically,” Lutz said. “Better one big than many small closures.” In polluted corridors, building projects are to be processed in bundles from 2024.
Wissing said the network had to be modernized from the ground up. This is the basis for more punctuality, faster connections and an overall more attractive offer. “A very central measure is that our network must be technically equipped in such a way that when repairs are made or when a construction site is set up, network operations are disrupted to a minimum and not to a maximum. At the moment, the disruption to network operations at a construction site is too great. That has to be reduced to a minimum. There are technical possibilities for this, and we want to use them,” said the minister.
Wissing calls for “clear target agreements”
“The route renovation must not be at the expense of the railway users, otherwise we will lose customers instead of gaining them. That’s why we have to proceed very strategically here. You can’t do everything that needs to be improved on the network at once,” explained Wissing.
“Otherwise you would have to accept that everything would stand still for a certain period of time. That’s not possible. That means you have to renovate during ongoing operations. And that’s why you have to organize the measures in such a way that they progress quickly and at the same time operations continue to run smoothly.” The entire industry and economy rightly made this requirement.
Wissing also made it clear with a view to the Deutsche Bahn group management: “We need a clear agreement on objectives for the new infrastructure board. Reliability is a key criterion for the position of the Bahn in the competition between the modes of transport.” The long-standing infrastructure director Ronald Pofalla had left the track. (dpa)