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21 Apr 2022, 13:49
Sören Amelang

Combined road-rail transport is 'climate giant in chains' – German industry

A combination of road and rail transport is the freight rail segment with greatest growth potential in Germany and the EU, according to a report by German industry association BDI. "This is why it plays an outstanding role in the goal of getting more goods onto the railways," the lobby group wrote in the paper, entitled "climate giant in chains." Transporting goods over relatively short distances by road before loading them onto trains for long distances before then returning to the road for the last stretch will be central to lowering transport emissions, the BDI argued, adding that industrial companies consider this method "the most flexible and innovative" of all rail segments. But the report also states that complicated logistics and the large number of involved companies make it much more complex than pure road or rail transport.

Most scenarios for a climate-friendly freight sector envisage an increase in rail transport, but its share of freight transport has been stagnating in Germany at around 20 percent for years. The BDI is calling on policymakers and rail operators to make combined transport solutions more attractive with a string of measures including increasing rail capacities and punctuality, exempting the necessary trucks from road tolls and increasing current weight limits, and supporting cargo handling at terminals. Improving the international management of capacities and supporting the extension of terminal infrastructure across the EU are also vital, the BDI said. In the long run, digitalising combined logistics and strengthening rail connections to Asia will be key as well. "The rail industry must succeed in playing catch-up if it is to transport significantly more freight volumes than it does today," the industry group argues.

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