Promoting a rail oriented urban development approach for urban regions in Germany and France

Project details


Promoting a rail oriented urban development approach for urban regions in Germany and France
Original Language Title: 
Développement d’un urbanisme orienté vers le rail et l'intermodalité dans les régions urbaines en Allemagne et en France
Implementing regional rail-based transport: Strasbourg tram. Photo (c) M. Monsigny, ISIS
Funding: National (France)
Duration: 12/01 - 10/04
Transport Themes:
Passenger transport, Rail transport, Urban transport, Land-use and transport planning
  • Outline
  • Funding
  • Results
  • Contact
Background & policy context: 

Taking account of integrated town planning and travel rests at the heart of land use planning. These principles have been the basis for land use planning policy in Germany for many years, although only more recently in France.

The development of conventional rail or urban/periurban light rapid transit provides a new way to develop cities. The choices made in recent years to limit the effects of layered urban development have been different in France and Germany. In Germany, a high level of urban density has been favoured, mostly around points which are well served by public transport, such as stations, thus leading to clustered development, whereas in France, urban planning around main transport arteries has been the norm.


The project's objective was to examine, through current and past experiences in France and Germany, the implementation of regional rail-based transport (tram-train, regional tram, railcars, etc), and the importance of integrating both spatial planning and transport issues to foster sustainable urban and traffic development, especially on the periphery of cities.


The key issues of Bahn.Ville are:

  • Analysing impacts and processes by best-practice analysis and case study investigations, 
  • Developing a summarised representation of the research findings by building an abstract scheme of the interactions,
  • Developing recommendations in the form of a handbook and disseminating the findings.

Best Practice and Case Study Investigations:
After the exchange of the state-of-the-art knowledge on planning and development procedures as well as on impact analysis, 10 best-practice examples have been analysed in France and Germany. Four of them have been chosen as case studies: 

  • Friedrichshafen – Ravensburg – Aulendorf (Bodensee-Oberschwaben-Bahn);
  • Bonn – Euskirchen (Voreifel-Bahn); 
  • Nantes – St. Nazaire; and
  • Strasbourg – Molsheim (the future tram-train site).

In these case studies empirical in-depth-investigations have been carried out concerning both processes and impacts using interviews with the stakeholders and surveys.

The impact analysis focuses on :

  • BAHN (rail): Impacts of railway improvements on urban development and mobility
  • VILLE (city): Impacts of rail oriented urban development on mobility behaviour and rail transport
  • '.' (the dot in the name BAHN.VILLE, which signifies a stop): Impacts of station development on intermodality and location development

The analysis at the process level deals with:

  • Planning and Co-operation (planning rights, instruments, formal and informal regional co-operation etc);
  • Realisation and Financing (internal and external success factors, funding and financial strategies etc); and
  • Building a Common Scheme.

The project aims at estimating the effects of the different measures and proceedings on urban development and mobility behaviour. The findings of the empirical work packages are summarised in a scheme of qualitative interactions.

The project also provides guidelines and methodological tools for local authorities and other partners to succeed in rail oriented urban and regional development.

Institution Type: 
Institution Name: 
METLTM: Ministère de l'Equipement, des Transports, du Logement, du Tourisme et de la Mer (Ministry of Public Works, Transport, Housing, Tourism and the Sea), DRAST (Research Directorate), ADEME: Agence de l'Environnement et de la Maîtrise de l'Energie (Environment and Energy Management Agency)
Key Results: 

The key results focus on the effects of urban development and rail development policies.

'Bahn' – rail service supply: 

  • Quantitative improvements in the local/regional rail service, such as frequency, clockface timetable and spread of services through the day) increases the range of journey types for which the train can be used, and hence the attractiveness of rail for people who have a choice of different modes. 
  • Qualitative improvements in services (comfort, service, new rolling stock, etc) plays a fundamental role in improving the image of rail transport and hence in promoting a modal shift towards rail for people who have a choice of different modes. 
  • The absence of major differences in service level along a line allows the access and egress distances to/from stations to be reduced. This strengthens the role of non-motorised access/egress modes (walk, cycle) and, from the rail operations point of view, allows greater optimisation of rolling stock usage.

'Ville' - the urban environment: 

  • The importance of walking as an access/egress mode for rail stations implies that particular attention needs to be paid to station access design and facilities. 
  • The importance of proximity (physical and/or temporal) to the station in the use of rail underlines the interest in an urban development close to the stations. 
  • The existence of a rail service can be an important factor for people choosing where to live: surveys have shown that this is particularly true for young households where there are two working people but only one car. This implies the need for urban construction or renewal programmes to provide a wide diversity of housing types.


  • Increasing the number of stations through new openings allows the potential number of passengers to be increased, and leads to shorter access/egress distances as well as an increase in slow modes (walk, cycle) for station access. Although an increase in the number of stops on a line tends to reduce the overall average speed of services, technical improvements to rolling stock can reduce the impact of this. 
  • Measures to refurbish and modernise stations improve the image of the whole locality around the station as well as improving services to rail users. 
  • Where a town is situated some distance from its railway station, the station can constitute a linking element, limiting the effect
Policy implications: 

Bahn.Ville adopted an original, cross-border approach, based on both scientific knowledge and experience at the practice level. It succeeded in promoting sustainable spatial planning and transport at the regional and local level,

The project provides guidelines and methodological tools for local authorities and other partners to succeed in rail oriented urban and regional development. The main results are the exchange of experience, findings on impacts and processes levels, a feasibility study of the schematisation and recommendations.





ADEUS (Agence de Développement et d'Urbanisme de l'Agglomération Strasbourgeoise); IFSTTAR; CERTU (Centre d'Etudes sur les Réseaux de Transport et l'Urbanisme / Centre for the study of urban planning, transport and public facilities)

DB Imm – A subsidiary of DB AG (German Railways), the role of DB Imm is to manage DB's real estate (land and buildings)

Contact Name: 
Mr. Benjamin Puccio
Contact Email: 
Agence de développement et d'urbanisme de l'agglomération Strasbourgeoise
9 rue Brûlée
Contact country: 
+33 3 88 21 49 07
Fax Number: 
+33 3 88 75 79 42