International Transport Forum kicks off in Leipzig | Business| Economy and finance news from a German perspective | DW | 22.05.2013
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International Transport Forum kicks off in Leipzig

A high-ranking global conference on the challenges arising from future transportation needs has begun in Leipzig, Germany. It's focusing on the funding of infrastructure projects to meet growing mobility demands.

Scientists, business leaders and politicians from around the globe on Wednesday started three days of discussions in Leipzig on how best to raise money for the infrastructure projects of the future.

Participants agreed that the current generation of policy makers was facing an acute shortage of long-term finance in the transportation sector, adding to their already serious pubic funding woes.

The global financial crisis and the ongoing eurozone debt dilemma have been putting a major strain on public budgets, forced banks to tighten their lending and made private investors a lot more cautious.

Fundraising dilemma

Nonetheless, the forum's secretary-general, Jose Viegas, huge resources needed to be invested to meet future transportation demands. He said air passenger volumes alone would double by 2030, with cargo freight volumes to triple over the same period. According to the OECD, the construction or extension of existing aviation hubs, ports and rail tracks would cost about $11 trillion (8.5 trillion euros) over the next 17 years.

Viegas said only public-private partnerships could resolve the massive funding problem. The Leipzig forum agreed that developing countries would be focusing on a large-scale extension of their transport infrastructure, while industrialized nations would be concentrating on making their transport systems greener.

"The new systems to be built will no doubt work well, but they require huge investments, Viegas said in a statement.

German Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer admitted that too many infrastructure projects had been neglected in Germany for too long. He said that for him maintenance took precedence over an extension of existing mobility systems. "It's my aim to invest about two thirds of available means in the upkeep of our transport systems," Ramsauer said in an article published by the German daily "Die Welt."