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Germany to boost rail investment to 9 bn euros in 2018

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Frankfurt am Main (AFP)

German state rail operator Deutsche Bahn said Thursday it would sharply lift investment in its infrastructure this year, part of a years-long battle to make grumbling about delays history.

The group plans to spend a "record sum" of 9.3 billion euros ($11.6 billion) on upgrading, repairing and extending tracks, stations, bridges and tunnels in 2018, infrastructure chief Ronald Pofalla said in a statement, an increase of 9.4 percent over last year's figure.

Among the headline projects are upgrades to major routes, such as stretches linking northern ports Bremen and Hamburg with cities further south, and two lines running across Germany's southeastern border with Austria.

Some 700 stations including hubs like western financial capital Frankfurt and Magdeburg in eastern Germany will also enjoy touch-ups worth a total of 1.2 billion euros.

Deutsche Bahn will hire 2,000 additional workers to tackle up to 800 work sites per day.

But the firm promised that it would adjust timetables to minimise disruption to passenger services -- whose less-than-perfect punctuality is a popular butt for wisecracks.

Around one in four long-distance trains arrived more than five minutes late last year, in part owing to extensive engineering work, but also due to severe autumn storms and other unforeseen disruptions.

Coming years will see similarly high levels of rail investment in Germany, as renewals fall due for large parts of its infrastructure.

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