Transport policy only seldom reaches public attention. Election campaigns usually avoid references to transport policies. Party competition in Germany is concerned with other areas. At the same time transportation policy requires technical knowledge, is shaped by economics, ecological ideas, and social norms (Bandelow/Kundolf 2011).
Traditionally, the state plays a special role in transportation policy as it not only acts as a regulator but also provides transportation itself. The German state owns most of the infrastructure in road and shipping traffic. The German railway (Deutsche Bahn AG) is even owned by the federal state completely. Additionally the federal state is responsible for securing the public interest at the development of the railway system (Basic Law [section] 87 e). However, since December 1993 the Basic Law allows the introduction of competition. Formally the Deutsche Bahn has become a stock corporation even though the plan to sell parts of the company to private shareholders has failed up to know. Private companies still only provide trains on a few selected railway lines.
Another peculiarity of transport policy is the far-reaching influence of the European Union and multilevel policies in this field (Sack 2007: 176). The member states committed themselves to the common goals of the EEC already in 1957. Since then, the competencies and activities of the European level in transport policy have been enlarged significantly step-by-step. The multilevel strategies contributed to significant changes of the German transport policies (Teutsch 2001; Lehmkuhl 2007).
Even though the peculiarities make transport policy a very fruitful field of policy analysis it has been neglected widely by the majority of researchers in the German speaking countries. There have been, however, two major approaches to German and European transport policies: The first approach is critical. It started by formulating policy advice for sustainable strategies (Canzler/Knie 1998). More recently, critical researchers have become increasingly disappointed with the realities of transport policies (Knie 2007). They evaluated the results of the policies against the background of official claims for "integrated" policies and present explanations for the failure of transport policies (Knie 2007; Scholler 2007; Scholler-Schwedes 2010).
The second approach is from positivistic policy science. Authors do not commit themselves to their own policy goals but try to...