Alexander Dobrindt MdB: Modern transport and mobility policy help harnessing economical value potentials

Economic success, sustainable growth and efficient infrastructures belong together and are interdependent. Those who recognise this intrinsic connection know that, economic growth and growing mobility guarantee employment, prosperity and competitiveness.

The Federal Government sees infrastructure policy as proactive prosperity policy. It is right and necessary that it is given the required priority on the political agenda. Our main focus here is on a future-proof trans­­port infrastructure network and a high-performance digital infrastructure. Because we need a much more comprehensive understanding of infrastructure and modern transport and mobility policy in a world in which digitalisation is permeating every production and economic process with breathtaking momentum.

The logistics industry is the perfect example to illustrate these interrelations. Efficient railways, roads and waterways are just as essential for organising and managing the global increase in commodity flows as digital technologies and high-performance data networks. Only recently, the World Bank confirmed in its Logistics Performance Index, Germany’s top position in the international competition among logistics centres. This title and Germany’s role as a globally leading export nation would be unthinkable without reliable infrastructure.

Reliable investment in the transport infrastructure network. The leading position in the World Bank’s ranking is an important honour. At the same time, it obliges us to pursue a modern investment and infrastructure policy. This is exactly what the Grand Coalition has committed itself to. By topping up the investment budget for the federal transport infrastructure by five billion euros in this electoral term, we are sending a clear signal. At the same time, we are providing additional momentum: investment in transport infrastructure will increase from currently 10.5 billion euros to 12.1 billion euros by 2017. We also want to expand and strengthen the financial basis of our transport in­­frastructure network by extending the user-pays system.

If we want to channel investment to those areas where it will produce the greatest benefit for our economy and our transport system, we must establish clear priorities. We are currently developing the strategic ground plan for our transport infrastructure of the future by working on the new Federal Transport Infra­­structure Plan for the period after 2015. Safeguarding the existing infrastructure is one of our key tasks. This is why we give investment in renewals priority over new construction. However, the construction of new projects must certainly continue to be possible. All renewal and new construction activities will focus on eliminating bottlenecks on the higher-level networks and on measures with key access functions. One important focus will be the improvement of the hinterland connections of our ports, because our ports are the main hub for our imports and exports. Our “Hinterland Traffic to and from Sea­ports” investment programme has a budget of 300 million euros. We want to use these resources to start eliminating bot­tlenecks in a targeted manner next year and thus facilitate an enormous capacity increase in passenger and freight transport.hhla_marco_polo_1_0-HHM-Engel&Gielen-Kopie

Using opportunities offered by digitalisation. We are in the midst of a digital transformation process which deserves our full political attention. The digitisation of globally connected production processes is taking place with breathtaking force and is having an irreversible impact on our economic and social structures. Today, the availability of data and data flows is a key production factor. Digitalisation also offers tremendous opportunities for the future, which we are determined to make use of: Germany and Europe are to catch up again with the world leaders in developing digital technologies. We need a digital awakening which will help us gain significantly more digital sovereignty and independence. The accelerated setup of a high-performance and nationwide broadband network by 2018 is one of the key ele­ments here. The network alliance for a digital Germany (Netzallianz Digitales Deutsch­­land) will provide an important impetus for the realisation of this objective. Together with telecommunications and network companies we will develop and realise a future-proof broadband strategy for the future. This digitalisation campaign will also be a major factor for the success of Germany as a transport and logistics location.

Promoting modern mobility strategies. Digitalisation and mobility are having an increasing impact on each other. The development of smart, networked transport systems opens up a number of possibilities for using our transport systems more efficiently and making them more sustainable. Mobile ICT applications are a major driver for increasing the efficiency of mobility. Smart­phones and smartcards are turning into personalised mobility assistants for every individual trans­­port user. We are fostering the potential of these developments and their suitability for everyday use both in private and in commercial transport but also in public mobility services. By promoting collabora­tive schemes such as Car2X communications, we are providing an important impetus also at the European level, to enhance the safety and efficiency of traffic management. These forward-looking activities are pooled and advanced at the annual Navigation Con­ference and as part of the Federal Government’s IT Summit.

Electric mobility remains a key catalyst for sustain­able mobility. Our ambition is to become the lead provider and lead market in international competition. Not favouring a specific technology and including all modes of transport are essential principles here. We are trialling innovative approaches in both private and commercial transport with different projects, such as the Electric Mobility Pilot Regions or our electric mobility showcases. We are also focusing on intermodal transport strategies, which include passenger cars, buses and coaches, rail vehicles or delivery vans. With the help of a multi-stage Electric Mobility Act, we want to provide incentives to users and make electric mobility more attractive.

Germany is an innovative country. Modern mobility policy must contribute to helping our country harness its potential to create wealth in the best possible way. Outstanding performance in developing tech­­nologies is just as indispensable as efficient infrastructures. Germany is an excellent place to do busi­­ness. We want to continue to be the world’s leading export nation and world logistics champion. This is why we are well advised to have a holistic approach to infrastructure policy and attach the necessary importance to it.

The author was born in Peißenberg in Upper Bavaria in 1970. Since 2013, he has been Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure in the cabinet of chancellor Angela Merkel. The graduated sociologist has been a member of Deutscher Bundestag since the year 2002.