WIT Press

Under Or Above Ground: Differing Choice Rationales For The Light Rail Systems Of Karlsruhe And Hannover


Free (open access)

Paper DOI






Page Range

913 - 923




286 kb


D. J. Petkov


This paper studies the recent development of the light rail systems of Karlsruhe and Hannover and questions the general belief of supremacy of the pragmatic techno-economic rationale in German transport planning. Hannover and Karlsruhe were widely admired for their public transport networks and have been considered real success stories by transport planners. In the recent past, the officials in the two cities made contrastive choices about major infrastructure links – a tunnel is being integrated in the street-level network of Karlsruhe, whereas a trunk section proposed to complete the underground core of the Hannover system was firmly rejected. By means of document analysis and reviewing previous studies and press articles, this paper traces the genesis of the infrastructure projects and identifies and explains the differing choice rationales in the two cases. The socio-economic analysis results and expert opinions suggested rather the opposite decisions in Karlsruhe and Hannover, but it was ideological and political reasons that dominated the decision-making process. In effect, the most recent development related to the light rail in the two cases is rather controversial and very political in nature and, to a certain extent, may undermine the general perception of excellence of the systems in these particular cities and Germany.


light rail, tramway, tunnels, urban transport politics, Germany