The Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) has put forward plans to expand the subway network in Berlin. The proposal includes the creation of a new ring that will connect the outskirts, as well as lengthening almost all of the existing lines. However, the plans have drawn criticism from the Federation for the Environment and Nature Conservation (BUND), who say the money should instead be spent on other areas of local public transport.
According to BUND state manager Tilmann Heuser, the BVG’s vision to more than double the subway network to 318 km is a “complete misjudgment of the transport policy necessities in the city.” He argues that the subway system in Berlin is already very extensive, covering almost all areas of the city. Therefore, the priority should be on expanding the city’s tram network, which would provide a more area-wide improvement in local transport.
The BVG has expressed irritation at the criticism from BUND, as the state-owned company believes it is proposing a holistic public transport vision for generations. However, Heuser argues that the cost of expanding the subway network is simply too high, meaning that potential funds would be better spent on the cheaper expansion of the tram network. He estimates that the cost of constructing the 171 km of new subway lines will be around 35 billion euros, more than the entire budget for the expansion and modernization of the local transport network by 2035.
Overall, BUND is calling for a greater focus on sustainable and cost-effective solutions, in light of the escalating climate crisis. With this in mind, the prioritization of tram expansion over subway expansion is seen as a more environmentally friendly and financially viable option for Berlin.