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"Go": Agreement of the traffic light groups on reforms in transport

Photo: Sina Schuldt / dpa

The traffic light groups have agreed on important reforms in the transport sector. On the one hand, this involves faster planning and approval for certain rail and motorway projects and the rehabilitation of dilapidated bridges, and on the other hand, an expansion of the truck toll.

This was preceded by weeks of negotiations between the governing parties of the SPD, the Greens and the FDP. The bills are now to be passed by the Bundestag this week. This also includes a reform of road traffic law.

»Transport revolution«

Green parliamentary group vice-chairman Julia Verlinden told the dpa news agency that the agreement on the laws on road traffic law, truck tolls and planning acceleration was a "historic course for modern, safe and climate-friendly mobility" in Germany.

"Instead of roads and cars, people and their health as well as climate protection will become more of a focus of transport policy in the future," said Verlinden. The background to this is that, in addition to the fluidity and safety of traffic, the Road Traffic Act also takes into account the goals of climate and environmental protection, health and urban development. This should make it easier for municipalities to set up 30 km/h zones.

Katharina Dröge, chairwoman of the Green parliamentary group, even described the results as a "transport revolution". In the coming year, Germany will invest significantly more money in rail than in road transport for the first time," Dröge continued. After years of austerity, we are turning the tide and finally setting the investment course in such a way that Germany will become a railway country in the future."

Meanwhile, Carina Konrad, FDP parliamentary group vice-chairman, warned: "Years of neglect of our infrastructure have slowed down our citizens and our economy for far too long and threaten the prosperity of our country." Highways, railways and waterways could now be built more quickly.

SPD parliamentary group vice-chairman Detlef Müller said important transport projects should be accelerated, including the urgent renovation of bridges. "I am very pleased that, after long, very strenuous and difficult negotiations, the breakthrough has been achieved today."

The agreement is based on decisions taken by the coalition leaders at the end of March. In recent weeks, however, there have been negotiations within the government factions on draft laws. At the end of September, the FDP had accused the Greens of a blockade.

Money for the railways from revenue from truck tolls

In the case of truck tolls, for example, a CO₂ surcharge is to be introduced, as already envisaged in the draft law. In this way, the coalition wants to provide incentives to accelerate the switch to trucks with climate-friendly drives. Billions in revenue from the truck toll are to flow into the railways for the first time. The rail network in Germany is partly dilapidated, resulting in train cancellations and delays. From the summer of next year until 2030, particularly heavily congested routes are now to be fundamentally renovated.

Federal Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) had said in mid-September that the federal government wanted to make an additional 2027 billion euros available to the railways by 40. A large part of the funds is to come from the reform of the truck toll. "With the toll change, we are mapping the actual costs of mobility and generating additional important revenues, especially for the rail infrastructure," Müller explained.