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Another referendum on a new light rail system: Regensburg

© Andreas Panik, Panik Ebner Design / Stadt Regensburg

The Upper Palatinate city of Regensburg, with a population of some 175,000 inhabitants, has been discussing the reintroduction of the tramway in a modern form for many years. It has little in common with the old metre-gauge railway, which was discontinued in 1964: the project proponents want to create a modern low-floor light rail system on a largely separate route. And there are quite a few of them. In June 2018, the city council finally decided to start planning for a light rail system. Since then, various different issues have been discussed as part of the preliminary planning, in particular the sensible and realistically possible route variants, the impact on the transport system in the city and, last but not least, the question of costs and financing, including the available funding.

© Stadt Regensburg

The results are now available and were presented to the city council.

Compared to the initial planning concepts, there have been some changes to the route network and also to the operating concept, not least as a result of the extensive public participation.

In addition to adjustments to the route in the north of the city, including the omission of the connection to Wutzelhofen station, this primarily concerns a direct connection between the University Hospital and Burgweinting via the Jahnstadion and the depot, the so-called ‘Südspange’.

© Stadt Regensburg

In the operating concept, it is proposed to supplement the 10-minute frequency of future Line A in the Isarstraße to University section during the day with a booster line, which will also run every 10 minutes, resulting in a 5-minute frequency. This is the result. As Line B will also run every 10 minutes, this will result in a very attractive service on the shared route sections. The plan is to use 45 metre long and 2.65 metre wide bidirectional standard gauge trams, of which 24 are required for the proposed service concept.

The result of the standardised evaluation procedure for the recommended variant presented is a benefit-cost factor of 1.54. Even with investment costs set 20% higher as part of the sensitivity analysis, it is still 1.38 and therefore well above the value of 1.0 required for funding. This means that the conditions are in place for substantial funding of the overall project by the federal and state governments, which will keep the City of Regensburg’s own contribution within significant limits.

In March of this year, Regensburg City Council decided to hold a referendum before starting further planning and construction preparations. This is now to be held on 9 June 2024 – very similar to the Stadt-Umland-Bahn in the Nuremberg-Erlangen area – and thus at the same time as the European elections. Only if the outcome of the referendum is positive will the process continue: the light rail can go ahead and the next steps will then be finalised.

Before then, the city and its planning authorities and other parties involved in the project will have to carry out extensive educational work. In Regensburg, too, all hopes of those involved in the project and other project supporters are now pinned on a majority deciding in favour of building the attractive new local transport system, which can significantly improve the quality of public transport in the city for decades to come.

© Andreas Panik, Panik Ebner Design