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Scenarios for calculating
the cost of Germany’s
transport transition


Agora Verkehrswende



It is clear that the transport transition will have its price. But what are the actual expenses of the transport sector and how much will have to be invested in vehicles, infrastructure and personnel to ensure a consistent transformation? Prognos examined this very question on behalf of Agora Verkehrswende, using three scenarios.

The study does not contain recommendations for action, but rather outlines a comprehensive picture of the financial burdens and potential savings resulting from the transition to a sustainable and climate-neutral transport system.

What is not considered in the study: Possible costs for individuals that may arise in the transport transition process and that are to be taken into account by policy makers.

Scenario comparison: Expenses and costs in the transport sector

The analysis of expenses and costs in the transport sector is based on three scenarios that are used to determine the investment requirements for specific policy paths and the costs they incur.

Expenses includes both private and public payments. For investment expenditure such as vehicles, trains or loading and transport infrastructure, both expenses and costs are taken into account. The costs are calculated as annuities, which means that the expenses are spread over the life of the goods with interest. Capital goods are therefore distinguished in terms of expenses and costs, while running costs – such as energy, personnel and maintenance costs – only take into account the expenses incurred in the year in question. All expenses and costs are based on 2022 prices, adjusted according to inflation.

Reference scenario: Based on current policy and foreseeable developments without additional instruments.

  • In this scenario, the cumulative expenditure in the period under review (2023 to 2045) is almost 10 trillion euros, but climate targets are not reached.
  • Over the entire period, the expenditure in the reference scenario is approximately the same as in target scenario 1.

Target scenario 1: assumes comprehensive and decisive measures are taken immediately to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions resulting from transport with the aim of hitting the 2045 climate objective.

  • To significantly reduce emissions in target scenario 1, higher investments in rail and charging infrastructure as well as in the electrification of vehicles are necessary in the short term.
  • These increased expenses are offset in the long term, by lower energy and maintenance costs.
  • Thus, the annual expenses and costs in the long-term view in target scenario 1 are lower than in the other two scenarios.

Target scenario 2: also pursues the goal of climate neutrality by 2045, but action is delayed. In this scenario climate protection measures are not implemented until after 2030.

  • By 2030, the costs of target scenario 2 are the same as in the reference scenario.
  • After 2030, additional charges result primarily from the modelled scrapping programme for passenger cars and the electricity-based fuels used.

Strengthening climate-friendly modes of transport, pushing for green technologies

A key result of the scenario analysis is that significant savings in greenhouse gas emissions are generally possible without incurring additional economic costs.

The transport transition is associated with higher costs for rail infrastructure, electric vehicles and personnel in public transport. However, this is offset by lower overall expenditure on energy, road vehicles, maintenance costs, efficiency gains and, last but not least, lower burdens due to the climate impact of transport.

Tabelle: Gesamtergebnis im Szenarienvergleich
Prognos AG

Our approach

The reference scenario is based on the “With further measures” scenario from the Federal Environment Agency for Germany’s Projection Report 2023. Target scenario 1 is based on the Climate-Neutral Germany 2045 project.

All scenarios were calculated using the Prognos TEMPO model and are based on the same traffic trends and framework data. This means that the scenarios assume no mobility restrictions – either for people or for goods. In all scenarios, transport performance increases to around 1,230 billion passenger kilometres by 2035 and then declines slightly by 2045 due to demographic developments.

The difference between the scenarios consists of the development of the modal split and thus the distribution of means of transport. In the two target scenarios, there is a significant shift from road to rail transport.

The costs from the transport scenarios were derived from the analysis of various studies, as well as technical discussions and workshops with experts.

Links and downloads

Download study (PDF)

Q&A (in German)

Further information at Agora Verkehrswende

Project team: Alex Auf der Maur, Andreas Brutsche, Tim Trachsel, Marie-Luise Zwicker

Latest update: 13.05.2024

Press enquiries

All enquiries are to be directed to Agora Verkehrswende:

E-mail: | Telephone: +49 (0 ) 30 7001435 -000

Do you have questions?

Your contact at Prognos

Alex Auf der Maur

Senior Project Manager

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Marie-Luise Zwicker


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