The Transrapid story and its undeserving end in Germany.
II.: Definitely a political decision – not an economic one
Altogether, there have been 3 planned tracks in Germany, and one by one they were abandoned.
And all of these projects were abandoned for the same reasons: unwillingness to invest money in a technology of progress, heavy skepticism among the residents of the planned tracks and last but not least the politicians’ lack of courage.
The heavy discussion that has been going on in Munich for years was very controversial. Lots of arguments have been brought forward in favor and against the Transrapid.
Hearing some of the arguments of the opponents, I realized that politicians talk about things they don’t have a clue about.
Among the main opponents were the city council of Munich and environmental groups.
Firstly, I can’t understand why these two were against the technology, because the Transrapid would have been a “present” to Munich financed by Bavaria and the German Government and it is obviously one of the greenest means of transportation one can think of. More about that later.
Secondly, the arguments brought forward did not make much sense at all.
The city council, dominated by the party, which is traditionally in the role of the opposition in Bavaria except in urban areas, apparently just wanted to oppose the plans of the Bavarian government, which is of another party. Their main argument was that the Transrapid would be too expensive. Well, the total costs have risen to about 3 billon euros. That’s not a bargain. But they seemed to ignore the fact, that Munich needs urgently a better airport connection. At the moment, the ride from the airport to the city center takes a good 40 minutes by Suburban Train. The city council suggested building an “Express Suburban Train” to the airport, which wouldn’t have been a bargain either, because a new track would have been necessary, too.
The environmental groups, which received lots of support from worried residents of the planned track, argued that the Transrapid was a waste of money and an unbearable noise exposure to residents. I really have to disagree with the last point. I’ve already taken a ride on the Transrapid and I’ve stood next to it on a vantage point when it passed by with a speed of about 300 km/h and it was certainly less noisy than a bypassing train or truck.
When the companies involved in the project announced that the total costs would exceed the costs estimated before, the Bavarian government decided at once that they would give up the project – rather than figuring out how to make it work.
This makes it obvious that politicians were only looking for a reason to abandon the project, as it was unpopular with the population and the next elections in Bavaria are approaching. The announcement of the increase in costs was the perfect opportunity for the Bavarian government to blame the industry for its own failures (the increase in costs of construction was mainly caused by the delay of the project which should have been finished by 2010).