The administrative stages for the new S4
The planning approval procedure takes the form of a formal administrative process that assesses public and private interests. The procedure also ensures that construction projects comply with all relevant legislation. Rail infrastructure projects require planning approval if they entail the construction of new facilities or substantial changes to existing facilities, such as the construction of an additional track.
Major infrastructure projects affect large numbers of people and a multitude of interest groups. Due to the sheer volume and complexity of the objections and statements, it can take quite a long time to arrive at a final planning approval decision. Legal action can slow things down even more, even if these challenges are ultimately dismissed.
The project is divided into planning approval sections because the new S4's route passes through different municipalities and administrative units. The three-part structure makes sense because it enables our negotiating partners, i.e. the authorities in the relevant boroughs and municipalities, to make a comprehensive contribution to the section that runs through their territory.
As each section has its own specific construction and/or environmental targets, their planning activities are at different stages of development. Work might already have started in one section while planning is still taking place in another.
One step at a time: the planning approval process
What happens after the planning approval decision
At the end of the planning approval procedure, the Federal Railway Authority announces its decision. However, this does not always mark the final stage. Sometimes, construction cannot begin just yet. The following chart illustrates what can still happen after the Federal Railway Authority formally completes its part of the process.
If nobody submits an application as outlined in step 6, DB Netz AG may continue building until there is a decision on the legal challenge ("construction despite existence of action"). If the action is dismissed, the decision becomes final.
If one or more applications are submitted as outlined in step 6, a court assesses them as "urgent applications". DB Netz AG may only start construction once the court dismisses all urgent applications or if building work does not contravene any of them. Construction is suspended if the court rules in favour of an urgent application. If no urgent application is upheld, construction may proceed.
Further information on the planning approval procedure is available in this brochure.