With the general renovation of important rail corridors, passengers will have to switch to hundreds of replacement buses in the coming years. The EVG rail union fears a significant bottleneck.
From the perspective of the Railway and Transport Union (EVG), the shortage of bus drivers is the central problem in the general renovation of important rail corridors from next year. “Sufficient vehicles have been ordered for replacement traffic,” EVG boss Martin Burkert told the German Press Agency. “But when it comes to staff, the situation is extremely difficult.”
It starts next summer on the Riedbahn between Frankfurt and Mannheim. The important long-distance transport corridor will be completely closed for around five months and completely renovated. To ensure that passengers can still get to the neighboring regions, the railway has ordered around 400 replacement buses.
The EVG doubts that there will be enough drivers available for this. “It’s not just about salary issues, but also about working conditions,” emphasized Burkert. “This is an enormous challenge that must be overcome, not just for one year, but every year until at least 2030.”
By then, the railway wants to completely renovate almost 40 more rail corridors. After the Riedbahn, the Berlin-Hamburg and Emmerich-Oberhausen routes will follow in 2025. The federal government has promised to finance the renovation projects with an additional around 40 billion euros by 2027.
Discussion about Infrago
Starting next year, the railway infrastructure, which is currently operated by the railway subsidiary DB Netz, is to be transferred to a new infrastructure company committed to the common good. The company called Infrago remains under the umbrella of Deutsche Bahn. The federal government should, however, be given more extensive supervision and control options. This is intended to relieve the new company of the pressure to make profits. For critics, this step does not go far enough. The Greens and the Union in particular have called for the group to be broken up and for a complete separation between the infrastructure and operations.
The EVG had always spoken out against such a step. “Infrago is the compromise to prevent the breakup of Deutsche Bahn,” said Burkert. “It is crucial for us that the interests of employees are protected and that the guaranteed financing for the general renovation also comes.” The Supervisory Board of Deutsche Bahn is scheduled to vote on the final lineup and structure of Infrago this Wednesday.