Rail, Internet, Administration: So lame is Germany

Delayed trains, slow Internet and waiting numbers on the job: In terms of infrastructure, Germany is lagging behind in many areas. How it would be better, make other countries before.



Anyone who has to take office in Germany needs one thing above all else: patience. It is hardly better when traveling by train or using the internet. Many things that could actually be faster, still need a lot of time in this country. Whether broken trains, endless paper forms or missing fiber optic cables - Germany chugs leisurely towards the future.

Most problems are known and addressed - but that has changed very little so far. But other states have long ago shown how it could be done better and faster: with fast internet, punctual trains and digitized administration.

Click through the examples to see how it works elsewhere.

Internet: too slow for the new world

The problem

In fair speech Andreas Scheuer is a master. "In mid-2018, around 83 percent of households in Germany were supplied with connections that provide at least 50 Mbit / s in the downstream," announced the Federal Minister for Transport and Digital Infrastructure at the end of November 2018 at the annual conference of the German Broadband Communications Association. And concealed the fact that the Federal Government missed its target with it: She wanted to supply Germany by the end of 2018 nationwide with broadband connections .

If Angela Merkel and her ministers had kept all their vows, then today all citizens and businesses in Germany would have at least a reasonably fast internet. Then they would not have to worry about shaky, slow and sometimes unreliable connections - which are becoming a disadvantage for many companies, especially in rural areas.

This does not prevent Berlin from making new promises: By 2025, it should be Germany's largest network of gigabit-capable networks with at least 1000 Mbit per

Give second, announced the Chancellery. And it vows to promote in future only fiber optic connections . But especially with these particularly fast lines, Germany has a particularly high backlog demand. By mid-2018, only 2.6 percent of households had access to the fiber-optic network, according to the OECD. This makes the Federal Republic of Germany one of the laggards in Europe. Far behind states like Lithuania, Latvia - or Portugal.

How others do it better: Portugal

The small, poor country on the southwestern edge of the continent depends on the large industrial nation of Germany in the Internet expansion. According to the European Court of Auditors, almost every household in Portugal can be provided with a broadband connection - and 42% of these are based on fiber connections, according to the OECD. Thus, more households in Portugal have fiber optic access than in this country.

The telecommunications companies in Portugal have consistently set on the new technology - unlike the German Telekom, which rather aufpeppt their old, already laid copper lines with the so-called vectoring technology. Portugal did not have that many copper pipes to use.

Result: As early as 2011, the former monopolist Portugal Telecom (PT) was able to offer one million households a fiber optic connection. In 2014, PT and its competitor Vodafone then agreed to jointly expand the fiber-optic network - and regulators gave their blessing. "That was a very important step," says Thomas Fetzer, Professor of Public Law and Regulatory Law at the University of Mannheim. "Also because of this cooperation, the coverage numbers have gone up quickly."

What Germany can learn from it

In Germany, the Portuguese model could now be imitated. At the end of March Telekom and Oldenburg-based energy provider EWE announced that they had set up a joint venture to expand fiber-optic expansion in parts of Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia and Bremen. However, the Federal Cartel Office wants to investigate the matter even more closely. Even if the market watchers wave through the joint venture, it is only a first small step: Telekom and EWE together want to put about two billion euros in their project. The Federal Government estimates the investment requirements for its gigabit vision by 2025 at 100 billion euros.

Train: This train is unfortunately out today

The problem

The past winter has really done the job for Deutsche Bahn . Apart from the snow chaos in the foothills of the Alps, there were hardly any adversities that seriously disrupted rail traffic. According to Deutsche Bahn, 94 or 95 percent of all trains were on time in January and February.

However, only those in whom good news can be seen in the meantime, have been able to train themselves against any claims. For less than six minutes, the train is not at all a delay - and when the ICE turns in front of the stop, the ride is completely out of the statistics, even if you previously lagged the schedule massively.

The reasons for delays and train cancellations are always similar: missing trains, missing personnel, broken technology.

How far Deutsche Bahn is from what is possible on the rail, however, only becomes clear when one compares the competition abroad . The Swiss railway, for example, with its nationwide coordinated rhythm of regional and long-distance trains. Here, the staff are already making pointy comments when the arrival of a train is only two minutes out of rhythm. Or the Austrian Federal Railways, which spoiled their passengers with sparkling clean trains and proved that even night trains can be operated economically.

How others do better: Japan and China

If you really want to put down the German Bahn, you refer to the two grand masters of the railway - the state railway from China and the Shinkansen operating companies in Japan . The average delay per year is 0.9 minutes per year - including the weather-related disabilities. It is not much more in China. The timetables dictate the trains up to 350 km / h. Thus, China operates the fastest production train network in the world.

Of course, such a comparison is not quite fair. Because the high-speed trains in Japan and China are each on a specially reserved for them track network, while the ICE in this country sometimes even behind a regional train must lag behind. Also, the distances between the individual stations in Germany are much shorter. It is rarely worthwhile to accelerate to maximum speed.

AP

But these structural advantages do not explain why Fuxing Hao and Shinkansen drive almost without breakdowns. At any rate, failures of air conditioning systems or even railcars are hardly included in the statistics. In Germany, on the other hand, they each fill a separate chapter.

However, the fact is that China and Japan - by the way France as well as its TGV and Spain the Alta Velocidad Española, AGV for short - are giving their flagships a lot more attention by rail than by Germany's ICE. Often enough, these countries do not even look closely at whether the investments will pay off in the end. The main thing is, the system is running (and contributes to the reputation of the nation).

What Germany can learn from it

Despite all the differences, Deutsche Bahn could look ahead to some details - for example, the Japanese Shinkansen. There, employees pay strict attention to discipline when entering and exiting . So a bulky suitcase here and a more intimate farewell there can not add up to minutes of delays on the descent.

Also in the maintenance of the railway network, the Japanese are better organized. The repair crews move out at night when traffic is at a standstill. During the day, detectors have already detected irregularities on the tracks and immediately reported them to the control center. The damages are eliminated before they cause other problems. At Deutsche Bahn, the laissez-faire principle prevails.

Digital administration: pull number and wait

The problem

If you want to apply for parental allowance in Germany, you have to go and collect some paperwork. According to a McKinsey investigation, young mothers and fathers have to submit up to 17 documents to the authorities by mail - not to mention the completed, sometimes nine-page form. And if the baby needs a birth certificate or identity card, then parents usually have to go to the office.

Everybody knows what this means in Germany: drawing numbers, waiting, waiting, waiting, counting rubber sheets, being called, and becoming public servants - that is still everyday life in the Federal Republic. Although already in the year 2000 the then Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD) had promised the Germans, soon "the data would run, not the citizens".

19 years later, digital administration is on the decline. According to a study by Initiative D21, a business-backed think tank, only 40 percent of local Internet users have used at least one eGovernment service in the past 12 months. In 2012 there were still 45 percent. "Up to now, it has often not been possible in Germany to enable the citizens to handle their concerns completely digitally," the study sums up.

According to a survey by the digital association Bitkom, two-thirds of Germans believe that they can do most of the administrative work online, in principle. Even higher is the number of citizens who want greater digitization of the administration. But it is not progressing. The European Commission placed Germany in eGovernment only in 20th place out of 28 member states.

How others do it better: Estonia

Even organ donors can be electronically in Estonia. One click is enough. But Estonian citizens can also vote for the parliament via the web, re-register their car - or themselves. Submit the tax return or retrieve the electronic health record.

Estonia is the avant-garde in digital administration. Already since 2002 every Este and Estin has an e-identity in the net: a kind of state user profile with all important data. Using a chip in your ID card and a PIN, citizens can prove to the computer that they are themselves. Thus, the 1.3 million Estonians can do almost all public services while sitting on the couch at home: 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And, perhaps most importantly, not only can they do it, they do too. Because the offers are often so user friendly. About 30 percent of citizens vote over the Internet.

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The Baltic Republic never had such a bureaucratic waterhead as did great European nations. This is also due to their history: until independence in 1991, Estonia was largely governed by Moscow. When the Russians were gone, the young republic had to build up completely new structures - whether in state administration, in finance or in the economy. And in the 1990's, computerization and networking made great progress worldwide.

The Estonian government estimates that digital administration is giving its country about two percent more GDP - and saving hundreds of years of work. But there are also dark sides. How vulnerable would Estonia be in a large-scale cyberattack ? In 2017, a security hole in electronic identity cards became known. The government in Tallinn responded promptly and asked citizens to renew the security certificates of their ID cards as soon as possible in order to prevent identity theft.

What Germany can learn from it

The Grand Coalition praised improvement. By 2022, she promises, 575 administrative services will be digitized. Including the parental allowance. "ELFE", short for "Simply Performance for Parents" is the name of the project. Per app parents should be able to submit the application without having to submit papers. The documents should send the authorities each other in the future. However, before "ELFE" becomes reality, several federal laws would have to be changed. That can take time - if ever it happens.

ref: spiegel