A wider train offering has little impact on road traffic and emissions | Domestic

Changing and expanding the train offering – as the government plans in the Rail Vision 2040 – can give a significant boost to train use, but will have little effect on car use and emissions. This is evident from a study by the Federal Planning Bureau.

According to forecasts, passenger transport by train would decline by 2.8 percent in the period 2019-2040, partly due to the growth of teleworking. Without measures, the share of train passengers in 2040 would also remain around 8 percent. That is the same share as in 2019, while the government’s ambition in its Rail Vision 2040 is to increase to 15 percent by 2040.

To achieve this growth, the government is planning an expansion of the train offering. The Federal Planning Bureau has now calculated the possible effect of a number of proposed interventions.


The scenario with the greatest impact is one in which both the frequency of trains increases sharply and the so-called ‘in train time’ (including transfers) for the traveler is shortened.

In the latter scenario, train use would be almost 40 percent higher in 2040 than in 2019. During off-peak hours (+58.1 percent) the effect would be much higher than in the morning rush hour (22.3 percent).

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Higher train use comes at the expense of other modes of transport. But anyone who thinks that car use in particular would decline is wrong. The car benefits “the most from the freed up capacity on the road”. The ‘loss’ is mainly in active modes of transport such as walking and cycling and in the use of buses, trams and metro.


Consequently, the interventions in the train offer also have relatively little impact on road traffic. Road traffic growth could ‘only’ be reduced by 1.7 percentage points, or in concrete terms: a growth of 6.4 percent by 2040 instead of the expected 8.1 percent. There would not even be any impact on freight transport.

The expansion of the train offer also has “barely any effect on emissions,” the Planning Bureau concludes. For example, greenhouse gas emissions would be a maximum of 1.3 percent lower in 2040.

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