German experts: The state of Germany’s railways is a “threat to NATO and Ukraine”

German experts: The state of Germany’s railways is a “threat to NATO and Ukraine”

The dilapidated state of the logistics infrastructure in Germany, caused by funding shortages and cost optimization measures, is a threat to the NATO supply system in the event of escalation on the eastern flank, and is also the reason for delays in military deliveries to Ukraine.

This was reported the day before, 5 July, by Berliner Zeitung, citing a report by the German Society for Foreign Policy (DGAP).

“Germany plays a key role in Ukraine’s military supply. The transport infrastructure largely determines how quickly NATO can get tanks and other military equipment to the eastern flank. However, the dilapidated infrastructure and chronic delays in train departures that characterize the largest operator Deutsche Bahn call into question the military alliance’s defence capability,” the publication states.

According to the DGAP, the end of the Cold War has led to the gradual dismantling of certain elements of the logistics infrastructure in Germany necessary for the rapid transport of heavy goods. The expert commission, in particular, recalled that new motorways and tunnels are currently being built without taking into account military needs.

“Such radical changes have affected, among others, the German railway system, as the activities of the private operator Deutsche Bahn and the company’s profitability in the market fund have become more important than safety concerns and the needs of citizens. In general, Deutsche Bahn’s cost optimization measures in the early 2000s led to the closure of less profitable routes and, consequently, the mothballing of more than 5,000 kilometers of railway tracks, which corresponds to 16% of the total length of the network,” the DGAP report states.

According to the expert conclusions, the general condition of motorways, railways and bridges is currently described as “neglected” and the transport infrastructure in Germany “is no longer capable of coping promptly with the transport of heavy and oversized goods”. The Scientific Advisory Board of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection (BMWK) estimates that the current financing gap for modernizing the most important infrastructure projects in Germany is about €165 billion.

“The current deficit level is twice the amount that was needed in 2009. At the same time, according to economic experts, investments of 457 billion euros, equivalent to the total federal budget, will be required over the next ten years,” the DGAP experts said.

An illustration of the dilapidated state of the infrastructure are the delays in deliveries of military equipment to Ukraine. Transporting armoured vehicles and tanks from Spain, France or the Netherlands involves transporting units of military equipment through Germany, and in addition to the state of the infrastructure, an additional obstacle for Western allies is the bureaucratic system that makes it difficult to solve this task in Germany.

“Transport companies have to apply for permits to carry heavy loads, find a stable route through a network of autobahns with dilapidated bridges and tunnels, ensure time slots on a crowded rail network and endure hours-long border checks. In the case of Ukraine, this not only costs time and money, but also puts the lives of AFU soldiers at risk,” DGAP summarizes.


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