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The Action Plan of DB and BDL for Climate Protection Succeeds

The Action Plan of DB and BDL for Climate Protection Succeeds
photo: Deutsche Bahn/The Action Plan of DB and BDL for Climate Protection Succeeds
16 / 02 / 2023

Two years after signing the joint action plan in April 2021, the German Air Transport Association (BDL) and Deutsche Bahn (DB) have jointly drawn a positive first balance. The action plan aims to increase the attractiveness and sustainability of the transport offer and to contribute to a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions in the transport sector. To achieve this, the partners are focusing on better networking of transport modes and a further shift of traffic from air to rail.

In the first half of 2023, domestic German air traffic will reach around 56 per cent of the 2019 level. Although air traffic is increasing again after the pandemic-related slump, a trend towards further shifting domestic short-haul traffic to rail is evident here. In particular, Deutsche Bahn's Sprinter services are being used by more travellers than ever before. Last year, these fast connections between the metropolises recorded an increase in demand of 45 per cent compared to 2019.

In addition to the expansion of Sprinter services, the expanded feeder services and the improved cooperation offers, such as Lufthansa Express Rail, have contributed significantly to the action plan's success. In October 2021, demand for this joint feeder service between DB and Lufthansa to Frankfurt Airport was already at the level of the pre-crisis year 2019. Last year, demand increased again by 25 per cent.

Michael Peterson, DB Board Member for Long-Distance Passenger Transport: "Wherever aviation and rail cooperate, we record double-digit growth rates. Part of this success is our expanded feeder services to Germany's largest airport in Frankfurt am Main. If we succeed in intelligently linking the modes of transport, we will win more people for climate-friendly mobility chains."

Jost Lammers, President of the German Air Transport Association: "I am very pleased that we have been able to jointly advance further projects for better networking of rail and air transport. In this way, we are improving the mobility offer for travellers, contributing to climate protection in the transport sector and ensuring the competitiveness of the German air transport industry. However, to make further progress, we also need the federal government's support for accelerated infrastructure development."

Cooperation improves connections to the Frankfurt hub

An important component of the action plan is the expansion of feeder services. The Lufthansa Express Rail service, for example, has been greatly expanded. It enables Lufthansa passengers to book their entire journey, including the journey to and from Frankfurt Airport on the ICE, in one ticket via Deutsche Lufthansa. The offer now includes almost all domestic German destinations of Deutsche Lufthansa (a total of 24 destinations, i.e., seven additional destinations, compared to 2021). The number of connections has almost doubled from 135 to 240 trips per day.

If one looks at the individual lines, the success becomes particularly visible. For example, Münster-Frankfurt Airport: Since Münster was included in the Lufthansa Express Rail network, and the connection to Frankfurt Airport was further improved with more ICE stops and hourly connections, demand has increased by 27 per cent.  

Infrastructure projects for stronger networking

The renewal and expansion of the rail infrastructure is a prerequisite for even stronger networking of air and rail transport. Among other things, the approximately 60-kilometre-long Wendlingen-Ulm high-speed line was put into operation in December last year. It shortens the journey times between Stuttgart and Munich. It is also the basis for connecting Stuttgart Airport to long-distance passenger rail transport (SPFV) after the completion of the Stuttgart 21 rail project.

Deutsche Bahn and BDL agree that the connection of the Munich airport hub to the ICE network should be tackled as a matter of priority. Travellers to and from Munich Airport will benefit from the second main line of the Munich S-Bahn in the next few years. Together with the Erdinger Ringschluss, it will improve the connection between Munich Airport and the rail network. With the start of construction of the approximately four-and-a-half kilometre-long line from the airport to Schwaigerloh in November 2022, the Erdinger Ringschluss will continue to move forward. DB is aiming for the section to be commissioned by the end of 2025. In a further step, DB and the aviation industry have meanwhile submitted a proposal to the federal government for a new line along the A9 motorway from Ingolstadt to Munich with an airport connection and are lobbying for its rapid inclusion in the federal government's planning.

More Sprinter lines speed up connections

Travel times are a crucial criterion when choosing a means of transport. Sprinter trains, in particular, are, therefore, an alternative to air travel. In the meantime, DB's Sprinter network has grown to eleven Sprinter lines. With new direct connections to Frankfurt Airport - the central hub for air traffic in Germany - DB has been offering more fast alternatives to feeder flights since the timetable change in December. Overall, DB has increased the number of seats available at Frankfurt Airport by up to 60 per cent this year compared to 2022.

Source: Deutsche Bahn