The members of the Zukunftskolleg oppose the plans to discontinue the direct train connection from Konstanz/Singen to Stuttgart (the so-called Gäubahn). We wholeheartedly support the protest by citizens’ initiatives, train-passenger and environmental organizations, and many municipalities against the shut-down of the direct link of the Gäubahn to Stuttgart main station. Any solution to cover the duration during which the link to the underground station at Stuttgart is constructed must be at least as fast and direct as it is now. Given the looming climate catastrophe, it is hard to fathom that existing sustainable modes of travel are to be cut for an entire region, with no viable alternative other than less climate friendly travel options for the foreseeable future.

The Zukunftskolleg of the University of Konstanz embraces the goal of the University of Konstanz of significantly reducing the amount of air travel by the university’s researchers and thus their CO2 emissions. Where possible, international research exchange should be performed via virtual alternatives. However, we see a particular need for in-person travel for early career researchers (such as the fellows of the Zukunftskolleg) on their way to academic independence, as personal exchange is required to forge professional networks via attending conferences or visiting other research groups. In this critical phase of establishing academic independence, early career researchers need the personal exchange to establish their networks that are the basis for any future virtual exchange.

It is also important to remember the private life of the employees at the University of Konstanz. In particular in academia, a very high level of personal mobility is required, which results in most German and international researchers live far away from their families and relatives. Thus, they also have private travel requirements which they would like to perform as sustainable as possible.

For both private and business travel within Germany and to its neighbouring countries, trains provide an ideal climate friendly alternative to flying or driving. This is also recognised by the State of Baden Württemberg’s 10 points plan for their climate goals, which specifically pledges to improve the frequency and reliability of public transport in Baden-Württemberg, and increase the number of direct connections between cities. In the light of the urgent need to improve the sustainability of travel, we urge all actors to find a viable alternative that will retain a direct train link from Southern Baden-Württemberg, including Konstanz, to the long-distance train network in Stuttgart from 2025 onwards.

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