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Could drivers in Germany fund a future €9 ticket scheme?

Germany's much-talked about €9 ticket offer ends later this month. But a think tank has suggested that a toll system for drivers could provide funding to subsidise public transport, as well as to upgrade the roads network.

A person buys the €9 ticket in Frankfurt.
A person buys the €9 ticket in Frankfurt. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Boris Roessler

It is the main sticking point for reduced price travel continuing in Germany after the €9 ticket expires at the end of August – where would the money come from?

Now a group of experts have a proposal on how it could be funded in the future – and it involves car drivers. 

In a study, the think tank Centrum für Europäische Politik (CEP) presented a concept for a general car toll, the revenue from which could be used to finance the costs of a permanent €9 ticket for local transport.

In the paper, which was made available to German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, the authors propose a route-dependent toll system throughout Germany – i.e. not only on Autobahns or country roads, but on all roads. This could be made possible by a satellite-based recording of the kilometres driven.

Furthermore, there would be differences in the prices per kilometre depending on the vehicle class, in order to reflect the different loads on the infrastructure caused by the weight and exhaust emissions of the vehicles.

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The CEP calculated a surcharge of 6.9 cents per kilometre, however, there is currently an upper limit of four cents in Europe. The researchers suggest standardising the different toll systems that are used in European countries.

According to the study, revenue from the toll, amounting to around €12 billion, could initially be used to cover maintenance costs and to reduce the investment backlog in road transport. In this way, the acceptance of the levy among motorists could also be increased, the experts said.

However, the indirect consequential costs of car traffic, such as exhaust fumes and noise, should also be compensated. The report authors said the funds could therefore also used to expand public transport or to finance a permanent €9 ticket. 

The ticket, which is valid in all public transport networks in Germany – including on regional trains – currently costs around €2.5 billion for three months.

The suggestion comes after an attempt to introduce a car toll in Germany that only foreign drivers would have paid because German drivers were to be reimbursed failed under the previous federal government. The European Court of Justice rejected it as discrimination against foreign drivers. 

Tax excess profits of companies 

Meanwhile, Social Democrat leader Lars Klingbeil has said a follow-up ticket to the €9 offer could be funded by an ‘excess profits tax’.

“We have just seen that the €9 ticket makes sense, that it is accepted, that the citizens also want the extension,” Klingbeil told the radio station NDR Info.

With the excess profits tax, he said, the financing of a successor model could also be pushed forward.

The excess profits tax is intended for companies that profit from the energy crisis without making any contribution of their own. In Britain, for example, oil and gas companies have to pay a temporary 25 per cent tax on their extra profits. In Germany’s traffic light coalition, the Greens are also in favour of a supplementary tax, while the pro-business FDP rejects it.

FDP leader and Finance Minister Christian Lindner has repeatedly rejected an immediate follow-up to the €9 ticket, blaming finance woes.

At the weekend Lindner slammed the “freebie mentality” surrounding the ticket, and said continuing it with funding from the government wouldn’t be fair anyway. 

“People in the countryside who don’t have a train station nearby and depend on the car would subsidise cheap local transport,” he said. “I don’t think that’s fair,”

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Vocabulary

Car toll – (die) Pkw-Maut

Local transport – (der) Nahverkehr

Revenue – (die) Einnahmen

Freebie mentality – (die) Gratismentalität

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

Member comments

  1. Interesting, currently the tax component on fuel that goes straight into German coffers is 40 BILLION euros, to suggest car drivers also buy a ticket for each German is beyond ridiculous. How about if you want to take the train, you buy a train ticket, it works quite well. In the end i can see the liberal agenda, lets take all the money from those who work through taxes, and make sure that those who CHOOSE to stay home and not work get to live the same lifestyle. Well guess what, companies will move elsewhere as they already are

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TRAVEL NEWS

‘Trains of the future’: German rail operator plans huge modernisation

Germany's national railway company, Deutsche Bahn, is launching a modernisation offensive and plans to invest more than €19 billion in new trains over the next few years.

'Trains of the future': German rail operator plans huge modernisation

On Wednesday, Deutsche Bahn announced plans for its largest modernisation programme to date.

The record sum of €19 billion will help create the capacity needed to meet increased demand, as well as more modern vehicles which will help make the network more climate-friendly and reliable. 

“We are now investing in the trains of the future,” CEO Richard Lutz told the Innotrans rail technology trade show in Berlin on Wednesday.

At the trade show, Deutsche Bahn also showed what the regional train of the future may look like and presented a new double-decker wagon. It included special office cabins and family areas, which will go into service in Bavaria from spring 2023.

READ ALSO: REVEALED: The best night trains running through Germany

To enable more people to switch from cars to trains, the company says that around extra 450 highspeed ICE trains will run through Germany in 2030 and, next year, three new ICE trains will hit the tracks every month.

Over the next few years, Deutsche Bahn will be buying trains for long-distance services at a cost of around €10 billion – most of which will be spent on the ICE 4, while around €2.5 billion have been earmarked for 73 ICE 3 Neo trains, the first of which will go into service in December.

The end of Covid restrictions and the introduction of the €9 ticket at the beginning of June has recently given a huge boost to passenger numbers on buses and trains in Germany.

READ ALSO: What we know so far about the successor to Germany’s €9 ticket

According to the Federal Statistics Office, almost 4.8 billion passengers used regular train services in the first half of 2022 alone – over 36 percent more than in the first six months of the previous year.

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