This article is part of Topical Collection on The development of National Transport Policy
In Germany, the most recent comprehensive transport policy program of the federal government was published in the year 2000, followed by several sector specific programs. Aims, strategies, and priorities specified in the different governmental transport policy documents are discussed in the paper, with a particular focus on the modal split between road and rail. Apart from the fiscal and the regulatory framework, the most important policy area for the federal government is the provision of transport infrastructure. In 2016, the federal government enacted a new investment masterplan. Therefore, the experience with the former plan is described and key elements of the new masterplan are presented. The overall investment into transport infrastructure as well as the share of the different modes of transport are analyzed in more detail.
Germany’s transport policy is analyzed based on the aims, strategies, and priorities which are expressed in the published programs (text analysis). Data on modal split and user costs is used to assess transport policy developments. The infrastructure masterplans are analyzed based on the planned allocation of investment for different modes of transport and types of investment. Moreover, for the past masterplan actual budget data is used for the analysis.
With respect to transport policy programs, a shift in the priorities can be observed, closely linked to the changing political majorities. Whereas the comprehensive program published in 2000 stresses the importance of a sustainable development and calls for a modal shift, more recent programs focus on the competitive situation of German transport service providers. Moreover, more emphasis is put on the implementation of specific measures. With respect to infrastructure provision, in particular investment into road infrastructure was below the planned values. The recently enacted plan allocates more funds to the maintenance and replacement of infrastructure, and to inland waterways.
Although the priorities set by the government in published transport policy programs have changed, the effects on the overall traffic development remain rather limited. With respect to the federal transport infrastructure masterplan, an overestimation of the number of projects which might be completed within the given timeframe has been criticized several times. Although the political progress is providing some incentives to include a high number of projects in the masterplan, a more realistic approach appears to be suitable, also signaling the need for a larger budget. In the past, budget increases have been the result of macroeconomic considerations rather than of transport policy requirements. It remains to be seen whether these deficits will be at least partially eliminated during the lifespan of the recently enacted masterplan.