The anamnesis had a certain Dr. Markus Söder made it in the morning, in a rather laconic way: “The rail takes forever,” said the Bavarian Prime Minister when the SZ sustainability summit was on the reasons why things weren’t going faster with the shifting of traffic to rail. Endlessly, the CSU politician alluded to the long delays in building and planning new routes, not so much the travel times of the trains. The two are of course dependent on each other: faster connections require more modern routes. And they are still missing in many places. Even after four CSU transport ministers in a row.
From the perspective of many travelers, the train is still too slow, even on so-called racetracks. The ICE takes more than six hours from Hamburg to Munich. There are only four to five from Munich to Berlin, but in France the TGV can cover the equally long journey from Paris to Marseille in three.
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Railroad boss Richard Lutz can also respond disarmingly to honesty.
(Photo: Michael Kappeler / dpa)
Richard Lutz’s job is to make the railroad more attractive. The 57-year-old comes from a family of railway workers and studied business management. So it was almost logical that he made a career in the railroad. He has been running the public company since 2017. But what does he say about Söder and his diagnosis? Lutz cuts it short when asked about it in the discussion on the topic of mobility. He said, “Yes, that’s right.” The planning and approval processes sometimes took forever. With this answer of a disarming honesty, the boss of the railroads elegantly returns the ball. After all, the public enterprise cannot carry out its projects on its own. For this he needs politicians – and also citizens, who in many places resist new construction projects.
From the railroad boss’s perspective, however, one thing is clear: When it comes to cutting emissions, there’s little way around his business. “Climate change will not happen without a turnaround in traffic,” said Lutz. Rail is the only transportation sector that has reduced its emissions over the past 30 years and not increased them. Unlike cars, which are still in their infancy, rail trains have run on electricity for decades. 60 percent of rail traffic is electrified, proudly reports Lutz.
Tesla is more sustainable than the train, says automotive expert Dudenhöffer
Automotive expert Ferdinand Dudenhöffer, who is connected from home, listened intently to the railroad boss. However, he was not excited about the conference. “This promotional video was pleasant to hear,” he confides in the direction of the boss of the railroad. 60 percent electric, everything is fine. The only difference is that electric car maker Tesla is 100% electric. So why more trains – and not: more cars?
Dudenhöffer is good at expressing his thoughts in short and often provocative sentences, which is one of the reasons he is probably the most popular talker in Germany when it comes to four wheels. He also says one of those classic Dudenhöffer sayings to Lutz: “Tesla is more sustainable than the railroad.
However, no one in the group would agree with this conclusion, not even Navina Pernsteiner, who herself co-founded an electric car company. Sono Motors is the name of their Munich-based company. Their “Zion” electric car can not only charge electricity from the outlet, but thanks to a number of solar cells in the body, it can also fill up with solar energy without a cable connection. After all, that should bring an average range of 112 kilometers per week and thus allow a kind of automobile self-sufficiency, at least in the city. “A supplement that is certainly intelligent”, explains automotive specialist Dudenhöffer. But the solution to all problems is not something like that in Germany with its relatively few hours of sunshine.
Andreas Schön of the General German Bicycle Club (ADFC), on the other hand, is not only interested in where the energy comes from. Rather, it is interested in the question of which mode of transport should take priority in the future. And here he sees a need for action for his preferred mode of transportation. People still think about cars in particular. You can see this by the fact that many more people in the authorities are busy planning new routes than planning new cycle paths.
Finally, Navina Pernsteiner, the founder of electric cars, takes the floor again. And she said something that everyone in the group would probably sign off on. It is not a question of which mode of transport is the best. “It’s about finding common solutions.