Berlin (dpa) - Between the largest German cities, the train wants to run significantly more ICE and Intercitys. "We will consistently have long-distance transport between the major cities driven every half hour," affirmed Berthold Huber, the board member responsible for passenger transport.
"In the end, this means that we want to expand long-distance transport to a metropolitan S-Bahn." In summer, the train included the 30-minute cycle for the big cities in its new "Strong Rail" strategy, said the responsible Management Board member Huber - and made it clear that it would take a few more years before this could happen.
First of all, long-distance trains should travel between Hamburg and Berlin every 30 minutes - in two years. Today there are three trains in two hours each day. When the new Wendlingen-Ulm line and the new Stuttgart train station are in operation, Stuttgart and Munich, as well as Stuttgart and Frankfurt, as well as Frankfurt-Cologne and Frankfurt-Hamburg, are also to be connected by the end of 2025. There is no date yet for Berlin-Cologne.
"The metropolises and the traffic between the metropolises will continue to grow," said Huber. For example, the number of passengers on the new Berlin-Munich route has also risen by 14 percent this year. The train has been sending additional trains to the track there since Sunday.
Huber said that Deutsche Bahn will invest around twelve billion euros in its vehicle fleet by 2026. Half of the total is for the major order for the ICE4, of which 39 have been delivered since 2017. In 2025 there should be 137; it is the largest single order in the history of the railway.
There are also 23 new Eurocity trains from the Spanish manufacturer Talgo and 86 double-decker intercity trains, 44 of which are already running. In addition, Deutsche Bahn will shortly announce the order for a further 30 high-speed trains that are scheduled to come online in three years.
The federally owned company is in investment mode: In order to achieve the climate targets, significantly more money flows into the network, and the federal government also increases the equity of the railway. In the meantime, even disused routes are to be reactivated. Railway chief Richard Lutz speaks of "tailwind almost with storm force". For years, politicians have strayed from the railways, now there is a block.
The new long-distance trains are financed yourself, emphasizes the railway. The planned VAT reduction for long-distance train tickets will help. The group calculates that the cheaper tickets will bring five million additional passengers a year. This additional income will finance the 30 additional express trains, which will bring another six million new passengers, according to Huber's expectation.
Today, a long-distance train is on average 22 years old; in 2025, it should only be 15 years old. Since Sunday, the more than 40-year-old intercity cars have been discarded on several connections and replaced by ICE trains.
The corporate headquarters is also considering a successor to the ICE3, the round-nose train that has been running since 2000. The first newcomers are expected to arrive in eight or nine years - with a possibly unusual design for a train that is to travel up to 330 kilometers per hour, as Huber suggests: "It could also be a double-decker train."
Because the train is convinced that it could transport significantly more passengers if the network only existed. “The market is not the limiting factor, it is the capacity.” Some track sections are real traffic jams for trains, for example between Cologne and Dortmund or around Hamburg.
Utilization of long-distance trains has risen from an average of 43 to 56 percent since 2015. Huber's reasoning: If the railway grew with additional double-decker trains, even in the highest train class, the problems would at least not be exacerbated.
Rail, on the other hand, continues to reject a reservation requirement for passengers. Get in whenever you want - you don't want to give up this advantage over the plane, said Huber. "Never ever."