Germany’s capital Berlin plans to get ahead of growing demand for public transport with a massive investment in transportation projects. The Transit Masterplan indicates phased spending averaging €2 billion per year between 2019 and 2035. Officially, the Masterplan ends in 2023, but some of the projects it outlines will only be completed in 2035.
Berlin’s investments in public transportation are routinely high. 2018 saw the city commit to a €1 billion budget for the purchase of new trains, and the latest plans for improvement will reinforce the city’s reputation as one of Europe’s biggest spenders on public transport improvements.
Trams, Trains, and Buses
Unlike most other cities, Berlin has not only retained its tram network but extended it. Now, the tram network will be expanded still further with most new lines being laid in the western suburbs. In total, the tram network’s coverage will grow by 28 percent with the total line-distance rising to 267 kilometers. It’s not just distances covered but the number of trams that will rise. A 38 percent increase in the fleet will provide service to new routes while waiting times on existing routes will be reduced.
Moving from trams to trains, the S-Bahn rail network will also be expanded in a Northerly direction but instead of laying all-new tracks for the extension, it will primarily use existing lines that have fallen into disuse.
The city’s bus service hasn’t been neglected in the plans for a public transport revamp. Berlin says all its buses will be electric by 2030 and no passenger will wait longer than 10 minutes before a bus arrives. In remote areas where a regular timetable to allow for this isn’t feasible, it’s hoped that on-demand mini-buses will be able to provide service as needed.
Feasibility Studies for U-Bahn Extensions and Cargo Trams
Green Idealism Could Become Pragmatic Necessity
Projects that will decrease cities’ carbon footprint by encouraging mobility using public transport may sound like left-wing green idealism. Indeed, city authorities, consisting of a left-wing coalition, are eager to finalize as many of their plans for Berlin’s transport system as possible before a potentially more conservative future administration would have the chance to go back on them. However, analysts expect that necessity rather than green politics will make the expansions a logical step forward.
Berlin is currently home to about 3.63 million people, and that figure is expected to rise to above 4 million by 2030. Demand is already increasing, and the city is expecting some of the funds for its plans to come from rising ridership. A 1.4 percent fares increase will also contribute to the pool of funds to be used for the upgrades.
Berlin has looked to the future and is ensuring that it will have the capacity to cater for a growing population. It has planned proactively, and although improvements to the public transport network will have environmental benefits, they are being dictated by practical necessity too.