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ICE train near Munich Central Station (archive)

Photo: Christof Stache/AFP

Deutsche Bahn's planned clear-cutting of expansion and new construction, which was made public by SPIEGEL, has political repercussions. Surprised by the large number of projects threatened with being stopped, the chairman of the transport committee, Udo Schiefner (SPD), wrote an incendiary letter to railway boss Richard Lutz and infrastructure director Berthold Huber. The letter sent on Monday is available to SPIEGEL.

The news of the austerity plans "shocked him badly - especially after the budget week that had just ended in the German Bundestag and the resolutions passed there," said Schiefner. »What amazes me most of all is that I didn't find out about any of this beforehand. My colleagues in the Transport Committee and the Bundestag feel the same way," says the letter, which SPIEGEL has received.

Anger because of “short-term prioritization”

On Friday, SPIEGEL revealed an internal list of the rail infrastructure division “InfraGO”. The document reveals that the state-owned company has to postpone numerous expansion and new construction projects. After the Karlsruhe ruling on the climate and transformation fund, the railway is only left with around 30 of the 45 billion euros originally promised. According to SPIEGEL information, they should primarily flow into the inventory. The railway speaks of “short-term prioritization”.

All those regions that had hoped to expand their infrastructure following the railway's promises are likely to lose out. These include, among other things, the digitalization of the S-Bahn in Hamburg, the third expansion stage of the new digital junction station Stuttgart 21 and the construction of the eastern freight corridor from Uelzen to Halle.

International connections, such as the connection to the soon-to-be-completed Fehmarn Belt Tunnel, are also likely to be canceled for the time being, according to the railway's wishes, as are a large number of other projects for which the railway's planning has not yet progressed very far.

Committee chairman demands “truth”

"So far there has been no response directed at us or any public reaction to the reports, at least in no form that has reached me," complains committee chairman Schiefner in his letter. He demands that Deutsche Bahn (DB) “provide clarity and truth about all of this as quickly as possible.” However, his faith in the state-owned company has been shaken: “The trust in the DB continues to be important to me and to many in the Bundestag. But things like this really don't make things easy for us."

SPD parliamentary group deputy Detlef Müller told SPIEGEL: “The federal transport infrastructure plan and the expansion laws of course continue to apply. That doesn't mean that expansion and new construction projects will be eliminated." Rather, it must be about "prioritization over time." According to Müller, these must be projects where there are international obligations or high transport benefits. The Ministry of Transport, led by FDP politician Volker Wissing, emphasized that it was “continuing to be in intensive contact with the DB”.