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Study: traffic caused costs of 149 billion euros

Study: traffic caused costs of 149 billion euros

All means of transport in germany caused costs of 149 billion euros for the general public in 2017, according to a study. "These costs are not paid by those who caused them, but by all of us," said dirk flege, head of the allianz pro schiene association.

He had commissioned the swiss consulting firm infras with the study and presented the results in berlin on monday. "External costs include all the negative effects of mobility that are not paid for by the road users themselves," said flege.

According to the study, car traffic is responsible for a large part of these costs, accounting for around 141 billion euros or almost 95 percent of all consequential costs. On the one hand, this is due to the high proportion of cars in overall traffic and the many accidents. Insurance companies only partially covered the costs of health problems or work and production stoppages, said study author cuno bieler.

In second place, according to the authors, is rail transport, which is still responsible for 3.8 percent of the consequential costs and thus for almost 6 billion euros. According to the study, the main cost drivers are greenhouse gas emissions caused by the production, operation and disposal of vehicles. They account for about half of the railroad’s consequential costs.

What is striking is the low share of air traffic, which according to the study accounts for just under one percent of the total consequential costs. However, for methodological reasons, only domestic flights were taken into account, not cross-border flights. If, on the other hand, all flights to and from germany had been taken into account, the share would have been higher, said bieler.

This is also evident when looking at the average consequential costs that each mode of transport causes per kilometer: according to the study, air traffic costs the general public 12.8 cents per passenger kilometer, mainly due to the climate damage caused by flying. In the case of car traffic, the figure is just under 11 cents per kilometer. In the case of rail, a distinction is made between long-distance transport (around 2 cents per passenger kilometer) and local transport (4 cents), among others.

For the individual cost rates, the authors of the study used data from the german federal environment agency and the european commission. They calculated the external costs, which include noise, damage to nature and the landscape, climate impacts and accidents.

In view of the results, flege, head of the pro-rail alliance, called for more speed in the transformation of the transport system. "Carrying on as before is much more expensive than a spirited change of course," he said. He advocated the dismantling of "environmentally harmful subsidies," a carbon price, and the massive expansion of rail infrastructure.

The german association of the automotive industry (VDA) criticized the study. "Calculations of external costs depend heavily on the methods chosen and the assumptions made," he said. "Above all, however, it should be borne in mind that transport – and in particular road traffic – pays specific taxes and levies of over 50 billion euros a year, which also serve to cover external costs incurred.In addition, "efforts have long been made to reduce the external costs of transport"."

Flege of the pro-rail alliance, however, pointed out that there are hardly any studies that show how much the government spends on transport and how much it takes in.

However, criticism also came from the FDP. "Arguing exclusively with the consequential costs of transport, without taking into account the importance and benefits of mobility, is one-sided and tendentious," said torsten herbst, chairman of the FDP parliamentary group in the transport committee. "Germany does not need traffic carriers to compete against each other, but a sensible combination of road and rail."

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