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28 Apr 2022, 13:57
Sören Amelang

Construction work risks making German rail freight less attractive - industry

Clean Energy Wire

The construction works necessary to improve Germany's railroad infrastructure must not lead to additional train delays that will hamper efforts to shift more freight transport from roads onto rails, German industry has warned. The country's rail infrastructure is already being used beyond capacity on many routes, industry association BDI said in a position paper. The expected rise in construction sites creates additional concerns among companies over the viability of using trains to ship their goods this year and beyond, the lobby group said. Without drastic improvements of rail freight, government plans to shift more freight transport onto the rails in order to protect the climate are bound to fail, the BDI said. The group ruled out waiting for planned rail capacity extensions as a strategy because they will take too long.

The industry group called on the government and rail operators to specify precisely to what extent construction work is allowed to lower capacities, and then stick to those limits to make the use of rail transport more plannable and reliable. The management of construction work must also be overhauled to review the purpose of projects and find out whether funds are appropriate, while also improving communication and European coordination. More money and manpower should be dedicated to planning rail freight traffic in order to lessen the harmful effects of additional disturbances caused by defects, accidents, or extreme weather events. The BDI also called for a national initiative to improve freight rail punctuality. Germany should take an example from best practice methods used in Switzerland and Austria to improve reliability, the group said.

Improving the national railway system is a core element of Germany's plans for getting its transport sector on track towards climate neutrality, which so far has been among the most stubborn to decarbonise. The previous government said at least three billion euros annually should go to rail infrastructure in a bid to make its entire network greener, more efficient and more reliable.

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