THE PRESIDENT of the Association of German Transport Undertakings Dipl-Kfm Günter Elste warned on January 13 that the political objective of switching traffic from road to rail was in jeopardy.

This, he suggested, was directly attributable to cuts in government funding for expansion and development of the national rail network, brought about by a shortfall in the national budget. Part of this is due to the failure to implement the motorway access charge for lorries last year, because of technical problems. The charge should have generated €800m for rail investment, and Elste described the problem as nothing less than ’the collapse of infrastructure finance’.

In 2003 German Railway received €4·43bn of federal funding for infrastructure investment. It had expected a similar amount this year, but now anticipates that its allocation may be shorn by €1·2bn. Meeting on December 17, the DB board decided drastic action could be needed. It ordered preparations for a raft of measures including a possible halt to all new planning and construction and a review of all major projects in hand and the need to complete them. Savings may be sought from a shorter working week and a ban on recruitment.

Projects that could be affected include the high speed route being developed between München and Berlin (RG 11.03 p714), the Karlsruhe - Basel upgrading and improvements to the K