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€500m German rail research & €40m renovation schemes approved

Posted by: Matt Rafter
Industry News

€500m German rail research & €40m renovation schemes approved

The European Commission (EC) has approved a €500m German scheme which will support research, development and innovation in rail freight transport. Meanwhile, German Rail (DB) has announced a €40m scheme to renovate 167 train stations across its network as part of a programme for ‘attractive stations’.

EC’s research scheme will run until the end of 2024 and have an annual budget of €100m with the support taking the form of direct grants of between €25,000 and €30m.

Under the programme, aid will be granted to two types of projects including the development and testing of innovative technologies by means of pilot projects and digital test cases as well as the use of demonstrators, and the market introduction of innovative new technologies.

The initiative aims to encourage a modal shift from road to rail by improving digitisation and increasing the logistics capabilities and interoperability of rail freight transport to improve competitiveness.

Under guidelines for the programme published in the German Federal Gazette by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI), the projects involving test sites and pilot schemes will qualify for federal funding of between 50% and 100%, depending on the size of the organisation undertaking the research.

The demonstrator projects will receive between 25% and 100% of the required funding, according to the size of the organisation, while submissions covering the introduction of innovative technologies to the market will qualify for 50% federal funding.

The EC was required to investigate the programme under EU State Aid rules and found that the scheme is necessary to incentivise investments in research, development and innovation of new technologies in the rail freight sector. 

It decided that the measure is proportionate in view of the significant investment required for the research activities and is in line with the European Union’s environmental and transport objectives, without unduly distorting competition.

DB’s €40m renovation scheme will begin immediately, with all work being commissioned and carried out by DB over the coming year. Funding will be provided by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI).

The programme will cover work such as:

  • refurbishment of walls and flooring, including facades and interiors
  • refurbishment of stairs, entrances, fences and roofs
  • adding or expanding seating and waiting options
  • removal of graffiti and other forms of vandalism
  • improved passenger information
  • improved accessibility
  • energy-saving improvements including conversion of lighting to LED lighting and the replacement of heating systems

The programme will provide renovations to stations throughout Germany, including Siegen Central (€1.02m), Lübeck (€680,000), Karlsruhe (€555,000), Hamburg Central (€541,000), Nurenberg Central (€531,000), Hagen (€550,000) and Berlin Olympic Stadium (€400,000) among others.

In addition to offering more beautiful and comfortable train stations, it is hoped that the renovation scheme will provide an economic stimulus for the German economy in the face of the economic disruption of the recent pandemic. The programme is particularly aimed at providing ‘shovel-ready’ projects to provide work for tradespeople.

It follows a separate €6bn Federal compensation scheme to support Germany’s local and regional public transport operators through the economic disruption, which was approved in August.

Andreas Scheuer, Federal Transport Minister said: “More attractive train stations, strong craftsmanship, secure jobs. That is the core of our immediate program. Painters, scaffolders, electrical fitters and other local handicraft businesses can get started right away, and the winners are our medium-sized businesses and rail customers.”

DB board member for infrastructure Mr Ronald Pofalla said: “A strong railway needs attractive train stations. We are really getting off to a flying start with the federal economic stimulus programme and are beautifying 167 stations in a very short time. Travellers will benefit from a higher quality of stay and better information from the end of the year.”  Full stories here & here.

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