You can’t do anything about bad rail infrastructure. German freight forwarders strongly criticize the government’s transport policy

You can’t do anything about bad rail infrastructure. German freight forwarders strongly criticize the government’s transport policy
You can’t do anything about bad rail infrastructure. German freight forwarders strongly criticize the government’s transport policy

Germany’s coalition government, nicknamed the traffic light cabinet, has yet to bring about any change in transport policy, according to accusations from freight carriers. Criticism is directed at the undersized infrastructure, which can no longer handle the pressure on the railways, associated with the energy crisis and the increased need to transport strategic raw materials. The responsible ministries support the rail network and freight rail transport only in words, not actions, the carriers claim. And they warn of the imminent blocking of the railway network.

“When will the traffic lights turn green?” asked representatives of the German Association of Freight Forwarders at the start of a recent closed-door meeting of the government and parliamentary traffic light factions.

“Germany is further from the turnaround in freight transport than it was a year ago,” claimed Ludolf Kerkeling, chairman of the board of the association, at the meeting.

The economic situation and the noticeably growing interest of many companies in rail transport, together with other demands due to the war in Ukraine and climatic problems of inland navigation, leave the government lukewarm, Kerkeling further stated.

“We expected that increasing greenhouse gas emissions in the production of electricity and heat and the fourth very dry year in a row would accelerate the transition to an energy-efficient railway that is very climate-friendly,” remind freight carriers.

But that didn’t happen, he claims. Changes are coming from the market, but the politicians are not helping them in any way, says the critic.

“Industrial logisticians and climate protectionists alike are suffering because the responsible ministries are supporting the rail network and freight rail transport only in words, but not yet in action,” complains Kerkeling.

The summer passed without appreciable improvement of the particularly urgent situation at the construction site, agrees with the criticism another manager of the freight carrier Peter Westenberger.

As if to confirm this, a few days ago a railway construction site collapsed in the Rhine Valley south of Freiburg. After the fifth construction-related weekend closure in a row with no alternative route, the main artery of European freight traffic has now had to be half-closed for the next two days.

Westenberger therefore warns: “Network collapse is coming!”

Critics from among the truckers’ associations are adamant in their arguments.

“The general renewal of the rail network in one or two corridors” announced in June by Transport Minister Wissing and DB boss Lutz, but which has not yet been specified, is not enough, he claims.

Freight operators are demanding immediate changes to building planning, a statement on the rest of the network, a rapid capacity expansion program announced in the coalition agreement and a reduction in train route prices due to poor quality.

They have received nothing, according to their claims: no response to demands for the site and extension, a refusal to provide financial compensation and instead an announcement on Friday that, as every year, train journey prices will continue to increase from the end of 2023.

At the same time, the government wants to gradually end the subsidy for the price of the tracks, which has been provided since 2018.

Thomas Knechtel, a member of the board of freight carriers, also believes that “the government’s wrong approach to the framework conditions must end”.

“Instead of supporting diesel consumption with rebates and the new idea of ​​suspending emissions allowances, the government is idly watching the unimaginable increase in traction power prices – up to 1,000% at the peak. On the contrary, the government should prevent the emergence of a difference in energy prices between trucks and railways, as is the case in other countries,” the transporters demand.

According to the carriers, it should not be the case that the climate friendliness of electricity-powered rail transport is undermined in its own industry. On some routes, the difference in the price of driving a diesel locomotive is up to 30 percent.

“The budget discussions that are being prepared must show whether the coalition stands behind its basic agreement. Above all, compared to the federal government’s proposal, it must significantly increase investment in the construction and expansion of new railways and end counterproductive subsidies, such as the exemption of 94 percent of the road network from truck tolls,” German rail freight carriers say.

(no one)

The article is in Czech

Tags: bad rail infrastructure German freight forwarders strongly criticize governments transport policy

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