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German privitization iced

 Germans walked up to the edge, looked over, and stepped back Spiegel International Online has an extensive report.

German Train Sell-Off Derailed in the Nick of Time

Germany’s railway privatization has been shelved indefinitely following a decision by the Social Democratic Party to demand fundamental changes to the planned sale. Media commentators say the plan in its current form wouldn’t have boosted competition anyway.

A high-speed ICE train, the pride of the German rail network, at Munich station.

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A high-speed ICE train, the pride of the German rail network, at Munich station.

The wheels of change turn slowly in Germany. The country has been planning to privatize (more…) its railway for the past 15 years and seemed tantalizingly close to going ahead with it next year.But the plan appears to have been derailed by the center-left Social Democrats who voted at a party conference last weekend to demand fundamental changes to the privatization — changes Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives have already rejected.

Critics will say the dispute shows once again how bad Germany is at modernizing itself. Supporters of the country’s elaborate system of checks and balances say it proves that democracy works – many Germans were getting increasingly worried that a privatized rail network would hike fares and shut down unprofitable routes. And the plan in its current form had been criticized as being over-complex, contradictory and too focused on funding the railway’s global expansion rather than boosting competition and efficiency on German tracks.

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