Criticism of pure cost thinking: study: reactivation of railway lines is worthwhile

Thousands of kilometers of railway lines have been closed since the 1990s.

Criticism of pure cost thinking: study: reactivation of railway lines is worthwhile

Thousands of kilometers of railway lines have been closed since the 1990s. A rethink is only slowly taking place. However, one study highlights the benefits this offers in rural areas. It is an "investment in the future viability of a region".

According to a study, the revitalization of closed railway lines is worthwhile in many rural regions of Germany. However, a research team commissioned by the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR) discovered that the hurdles for approval are high. Too often only the direct financial benefit is used as an argument, while the effects on population development, the environment and society are not taken into account.

According to the study, more than three million people could be better connected to the nearest regional center by reactivating disused railway lines. There would be positive effects on the economy, transport, the environment and society.

Among other things, rural places would become attractive places to live and work and thus relieve strained housing markets in the cities. You have the advantage of living in the country, but you can easily reach work and leisure activities. In addition, the regions benefited from higher tax revenues and more tourism. The revitalization of the routes is "an investment in the future viability of a region," said institute director Markus Eltges.

According to the study, more than 5,100 kilometers of railway lines in Germany have been shut down since 1994 - and just over 1,000 kilometers have been reactivated. In 2019, the railway network was 16 percent smaller than in 1950. In recent years, however, there has been a rethink. This can also be seen in the coalition agreement: the SPD, Greens and FDP promise to expand the route network, reactivate routes and avoid closures.

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