What rolls coal

5th part | Central Germany and the coal billions Is the coal going, is the train coming?

At the local transport service Saxony-Anhalt (Nasa GmbH), managing director Peter Panitz already has various projects in mind. The focus is on improving the existing infrastructure. There are many routes that do not have the necessary speed or where electrification is lacking, such as the Gera-Zeitz-Leipzig connection.

What will become a really new connection would be the direct S-Bahn connection between Leipzig and Merseburg after the connection curve to Großkorbetha has been completed.

Peter Panitz Local Transport Service Saxony-Anhalt

Modern tracks, better connections

Tracks are also to be modernized in Lusatia. Trains from Dresden or Zittau to Görlitz could travel at 160 km / h in the future. The electrification of the Dresden-Hoyerwerda-Cottbus line is also planned, as is an ICE connection between Berlin and Görlitz. The coal goes, the train comes. Provided that it is really decided that way.

Because there are still open questions. The expansion of the routes is only one side. "Paying for the traffic is a very essential and important question," said Nasa boss Panitz. "The investment law for the coal region unfortunately only provides for the promotion of investments." If you set up new lines, you also need more funds to finance it. The proceeds from the travelers' fares only covered a small part of the costs.

The network also needs traffic

The federal government has made firm commitments to promote local transport until 2031. So-called regionalization funds flow. But everything is open for the time after that. And Saxony would actually need more money sooner if new routes are to be used in this decade. Negotiations are ongoing.

In any case, a modern rail network without better rail traffic makes little sense, says Andreas Berkner from the Regional Planning Association for Western Affairs. And he draws a memorable comparison to the fun pools that were built in many places 20 years ago - "some with 100 percent subsidies - and today, for the most part, are no longer operated. The gift of subsidies was initially gratefully accepted, but the operating costs would have been cannot be lifted in the long run.

"And that is precisely the development that we have to prevent in the course of structural change," emphasizes Berkner.

Decisions about the rail network are difficult for another reason. With the corona pandemic, the number of passengers has collapsed. Many commuters work from home. And nobody can say whether it will not stay that way after the pandemic.