Photo credits @ AdobeStock / Tatjana Balzer

German hauliers warn of economic risks from 20% cut in road infrastructure budget

German transport and logistics associations are concerned about the federal government's proposed cuts to the federal budget for 2025, which would significantly reduce funding for road infrastructure. The associations warn that these cuts could have serious economic consequences.

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Co-authored by Sabina Koll

The German Association of Freight Forwarders and Logistics Operators (DSLV) and other industry bodies are urging the German government to reconsider planned funding cuts to Autobahn GmbH, the organisation responsible for the construction, expansion, maintenance and operation of Germany’s motorways. Under the proposed budget, funding for Autobahn GmbH would be cut by 20 per cent, from €6.29 billion to €4.99 billion in 2025, with further cuts planned in subsequent years.

A broad alliance of 21 associations, including the DSLV, issued a press release stating that “investment cuts in transport infrastructure cause consequential damage to the economy”. The groups argue that reducing investment in motorways and bridges undermines Germany’s economic stability and competitiveness.

The Bundesverband Güterkraftverkehr Logistik und Entsorgung (BGL) has also voiced its concerns. BGL board spokesman Dirk Engelhardt highlighted the disparity between the government’s investment cuts and the €15 billion in HGV tolls paid by the transport industry each year

“The situation on Germany’s motorways is catastrophic and the road infrastructure has long since exceeded its capacity limit. There is a shortage of more than 40,000 truck parking spaces and bridges are in danger of collapsing. So we cannot accept savings on the roads,” said Engelhardt.

Engelhardt stressed the importance of maintaining the road funding cycle, whereby toll revenues are reinvested in road infrastructure. He argued that the proposed cuts would hinder the necessary maintenance and development of transport routes, exacerbating existing infrastructure challenges.

Federal Transport Minister Dr Volker Wissing had previously announced plans to carry out 400 bridge construction projects a year from 2026 in order to clear the backlog of repairs within ten years. However, the associations argue that these plans are now threatened by the proposed budget cuts.

The associations propose several measures to mitigate the impact of the cuts, including

  • Maintaining the budgets for transport route maintenance at the 2024 level, adjusted for construction cost increases.
  • Continuation of the planned increase in investment in transport modes as outlined in the government’s autumn 2023 draft of the 2024 federal budget, with compensation for inflation.
  • Develop the infrastructure necessary for the transition to climate-neutral transport, as planned in the autumn 2023 draft for the Climate and Transformation Fund.
  • Accelerate the digitalisation of transport modes to improve efficiency and performance.
  • Ensure long-term planning certainty through sufficient commitment authorisations and financing agreements, possibly by decoupling investments from traditional budgeting processes.

The BGL and other associations stress that these measures are crucial to maintaining Germany’s competitive position as a business location. 

“Further cuts would send a completely wrong signal to small and medium-sized businesses, to road haulage and to Germany as a business location. We appeal to the Federal Government to take its responsibility seriously and to use the existing billions in toll revenues to close the investment gap immediately,” concluded Engelhardt.