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A clear majority of citizens want rail to be preferred to road

Two thirds of Germans want the state to spend more money on the rail network than on road construction.

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A clear majority of citizens want rail to be preferred to road

Two thirds of Germans want the state to spend more money on the rail network than on road construction. This is the result of a representative survey by the opinion research institute Kantar, which is exclusively available to WELT AM SONNTAG. At the beginning of March, 66 percent of the 1,000 respondents answered in the affirmative whether “the federal government should spend more money on expanding railway lines than on expanding roads”. 27 percent denied this. The other participants did not provide any information.

The will of the majority coincides with what the SPD, Greens and FDP have undertaken in the coalition agreement, but contradicts the reality of the federal budget. Because in it, the total expenditure for infrastructure and planning in 2023 will amount to 11.32 billion euros for roads and only 10.62 billion euros for rail. Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) does not seem to want to change much here: In the coalition dispute over planning acceleration, he is demanding additional expansion simplifications not only for rail but also for road. In addition, based on forecasts of traffic development up to 2050, he recently advocated further expansion of motorways and federal roads.

The minister repeatedly points out that the federal government's total expenditure on the railways is higher than the 11.3 billion in the federal budget because train operations are also subsidized. But that's not what the poll is about. It is all about routes and infrastructure.

The Federal Audit Office, which wants to separate the administration of the ailing infrastructure from the loss-making Deutsche Bahn AG, also demands that the state should concentrate on them. It was "a bottomless pit," said Court of Auditors President Kay Scheller last week.

The survey was commissioned by the association of private rail companies (“Die Güterbahnen”), which overall have a larger market share than the DB freight division DB Cargo and repeatedly point out weaknesses in the network. According to the survey, majorities in almost all population groups and regions are calling for more money for rail routes than for roads. In towns with fewer than 5,000 inhabitants, 90 percent want to prefer rail. Only in municipalities with 5,000 to 20,000 inhabitants does a majority of 49 percent want to put more money into the street.

The otherwise unequivocal majority in favor of rail is repeated in the second question, which specific measures should have priority for both transport sectors, with multiple answers being possible. A total of only 20 percent called for "new construction of roads", 33 percent for "renovation of existing roads". Significantly more, namely 47 percent, called for the "expansion of the rail network and electrification" and more reloading stations for freight transport between rail and truck.

There is currently a shortage of rail freight terminals in Germany. And when it comes to electrification, it looks like only 61 percent of the rail network has overhead lines. Although they ensure fast and efficient train operation much better and more economically than any other system.

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