Decision makers are currently reviewing and revising a central mobility planning tool, the Federal Transport Infrastructure Plan, to meet today’s transport needs. This offers a valuable opportunity to reexamine the approaches prioritised in the plan. The rising number of car registrations should not automatically trigger the construction of new motorways; instead, priority must be given to an expansion of climate-friendly transport options, including cycling and public transport.
The Federal Transport Infrastructure Plan (BVWP) is a long-term planning tool for the German Federal Government that determines the strategic orientation and prioritisation of investments in the country’s transport infrastructure.
The BVWP encompasses all modes of transport, including roads, railways, waterways and airports, and identifies which projects will be implemented in the coming years based on an evaluation of urgency and economic efficiency. The plan is valid for 15 years and is updated every five years.
Needs assessment and dialogue process
The current version of the BVWP, BVWP 2030, was drawn up in 2016. A review of the plan is now underway to evaluate current needs, with the aim of clarifying how much the most recent plans for railways, roads and waterways must be adapted to reflect economic and transport developments. This review is accompanied by a dialogue process, which began in December 2022. Through this process, the Federal Government aims to reach an agreement with transport, environmental, economic and consumer protection associations on the priorities of the BVWP.
Rising registration numbers
The main traffic forecast parameters used in the development of BVWP 2030 are already outdated. The forecast was based on a lower growth estimate for passenger cars: the number of vehicles forecast for 2030 was already exceeded in 2022.
This development is symptomatic of a policy that results in increasing transport sector emissions and fails to meet the climate targets outlined in the Federal Climate Protection Act. The BVWP also has a part to play in this: the rising passenger car registration figures are the product of past planning decisions on transport infrastructure, which prioritised road transport over other modes of transport. To put this in perspective, only 6 kilometres of new railway line were constructed in Germany in 2019, compared to 61 km of new motorway.
Prioritisation of climate and environmental criteria
Building more motorways must not be the solution to continued growth in the number of passenger cars. Instead, the BVWP must be reoriented towards climate and environmental criteria to counteract this trend, achieve our climate goals and reduce environmental damage from the transport sector.
In the future, we must give greater priority to the expansion of cycling paths, local public transport and railways, as well as to the maintenance and upgrading of existing transport routes. We must also evaluate how transport routes can be redesigned or improved to provide greater climate and social benefits.
To facilitate this shift in approach, further construction and new construction of motorways should be suspended while the BWVP undergoes review. This move could prevent further environmental damage, including the loss of land and natural areas.
Adapt alignment to strong growth in e-mobility
Rapid growth in the number of e-vehicle registrations was not taken into account in the BVWP 2030 forecast. Therefore, the revision of the BVWP should consider the charging infrastructure in Germany in greater detail.
This involves not only increasing the number of charging points, but also anticipating the kind of charging infrastructure that will be in demand in the future. In addition, there must be efforts to ensure that charging infrastructure can be used without discrimination or barriers and that the technology will meet local requirements.
The growing number of e-cars is a clear indication of the need to reorient the BVWP towards changing mobility needs and infrastructure requirements; it is not, however, a justification for expanding roads. Climate and environmental compatibility must be at the forefront of planning decisions regarding every mode of transport.
The government stated in the coalition agreement that the BVWP would be replaced by an integrated mobility plan encompassing all modes and means of transport. The responsible ministries are currently developing this plan.
The BVMP can and must provide a long-term perspective for mobility that meets existing demand, takes environmental considerations into account, prioritises climate-friendly modes of transport and promotes transport that operates in a demand-oriented and climate-friendly manner. These goals, as well as climate protection, must be at the centre of mobility planning in the future.
The decisions of the Coalition Committee at the end of March 2023 support this long-term perspective in certain respects, though not in others. IKEM is critical of decisions to accelerate motorway projects but welcomes the agreements to use land along new motorways for solar installations and to expand e-charging infrastructure. It remains to be seen how the decisions will be implemented through legislation and how much emphasis will be placed on incorporating environmental aspects into the design.
-  Zeit.de: Verkehrspolitik – Deutlich mehr Autobahnen als Bahnstrecken gebaut.
-  Siehe hierzu auch das Statement verschiedener Umwelt- und Naturschutzorganisationen.
-  Kraftfahrtbundesamt. Neuzulassungen nach Motorisierung (FZ22); 2019-2021.
-  Dr. Philine Gaffron, TU Hamburg, Panel: Wie wird der Bundesverkehrswegeplan klima- und naturverträglich.
-  UBA: Klimaschutzinstrumente im Verkehr – Reformhebel für eine klima- und umweltschutzorientierte Bundesverkehrswegeplanung nach 2030.
-  Tagesschau.de: Ergebnisse des Koalitionsausschusses – Was die Ampel beschlossen hat.