German railway announces plan to reopen 20 closed routes

BERLIN — Germany’s national rail operator on Tuesday announced plans to reopen 20 stretches of railway around the country that have been closed over the years, a move intended to help get more people and freight on trains as the country steps up efforts to fight climate change.

The stretches that state-owned Deutsche Bahn plans to revive have a total length of 245 kilometers (152 miles). They were chosen after a team of experts assessed shuttered routes totaling around 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) for potential viability.

The routes include several suburban lines in and around Berlin and Duesseldorf, as well as other local routes in various parts of the country and a cross-border connection from Breisach in Germany’s southwestern corner to Colmar, France.

Jens Bergmann, a board member at Deutsche Bahn’s DB Netz infrastructure division, said more routes will be revived in the coming years.

“Our aim is: we want to win over more people for the railway, get more goods on the tracks,” he said in a statement. “Every kilometer of track is active climate protection.”

Planning and in some cases building work is already under way on some of the routes. Their total length is only a small fraction of the German rail network’s overall length of over 33,000 kilometers (20,500 miles).