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 right now. The railway can and must get better, »said the FDP politician of 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 railways to be 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. Lutz had achieved the goal of achieving 80 percent punctuality in long-distance transport this year. With the punctuality rate, 80 percent of the trains should not have arrived more than six minutes late at their destination.

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,” said Lutz. “Better one big than many small closures.” From 2024, construction projects are to be processed in a bundle in polluted corridors.

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 network operations are disrupted to a minimum and not to a maximum during repairs or when setting up a construction site. 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 a “clear target agreement”

«The route renovation must not be at the expense of the railway users, otherwise we will lose customers instead of gaining them. So we have to be very strategic 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 came to a standstill for a while. That will not do. In other words, 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 the company continues to run well.” The entire industry and economy rightly made this requirement.

Wissing also made it clear with regard to the Deutsche Bahn group management: “We need a clear agreement on objectives for the new infrastructure board. Reliability is a key criterion for Deutsche Bahn’s position in the competition between modes of transport.» The long-standing infrastructure director Ronald Pofalla had left the track.