Gift for the opposition

The disaster at the S-Bahn in Munich is slowly but surely growing into a real political scandal. Prime Minister Markus Söder and Transport Minister Christian Bernreiter are acting as if Bavaria’s state government was badly surprised in the summer that the second main route will probably be completed many years later and will be much more expensive than last planned. And they don’t know anything for sure anyway, the government claims, because Deutsche Bahn, as the builder of the billion-euro project, hasn’t been able to provide reliable figures for years.

But then, little by little, it turns out that a group of experts called in internally at the Ministry of Transport gave enough indications of much longer construction times and much higher costs. Now it is even clear: the railways already explained in writing and in detail to the Ministry of Transport two years ago why the first trains will probably not run through the new tunnels until 2034. Including suggestions as to how things might go faster.

But the state government has failed to provide the people in the Munich area with these insights. Recently, Bernreiter even continued to keep quiet about the explosive Bahn paper from September 2020. And that at the Bavarian state parliament. The transparency that Söder and his government have so vehemently demanded from the railways has been lacking for years.

As the new minister, Bernreiter failed to tidy up his house and disclose everything that was and is known there about the trunk line debacle. And Soeder? At the end of 2020, the Ministry of Transport informed its state chancellery of impending delays and cost increases in Bavaria’s most important transport project. Either Söder didn’t find out about it, then his state chancellery was poorly organized. Or he noticed and didn’t make sure that the state parliament and the population were informed.

If Söder and Bernreiter continue like this, instead of finally making a clean sweep, then they almost provoke a committee of inquiry in the state parliament. That would be a gift for the opposition in the 2023 election year. And it does not speak for Söder’s foresight and his qualities as head of government.

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