Goods trains are waiting for compensation after the Rastatt tunnel accident 08/08/22

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Goods trains are waiting for compensation after the Rastatt tunnel accident

Five years after the accident in the Rastatt railway tunnel in southern Germany, including the seven-week closure of the line, the railway companies are pressing for compensation. They alone suffered damage of around 100 million euros. The sluggish railway expansion is also criticized from Switzerland.

A freight train on rails. (symbol image) - dpa

Peter Westenberger, Managing Director of the Güterbahnen Association, a network of European railways, put the economic damage for customers at two billion euros at a media conference on Monday . There are now talks with DB Netz AG. Association Vice Sven Flore was therefore "cautiously optimistic".

On August 12, 2017, the accident occurred in the tunnel during the construction of the underpass of the existing Rhine Valley Railway. The tracks above sagged and traffic came to a standstill for seven weeks. In order to limit the damage, workers pumped large quantities of concrete over a length of 160 meters into the tube in which the million-dollar tunnel boring machine was still stuck.

Westenberger showed a lack of understanding that the work was progressing so slowly. A bypass of the tunnel construction site was only built this year. Completion of the tunnel is scheduled for the end of 2026 - that would be 30 years after the promise for the four-track expansion from northern Italy to the North Sea ports. The freight railways describe the tunnel construction site as the slowest railway construction site in Germany.

Westenberger called for learning from Rastatt for other railway projects. It is important, both for a planned four-week closure in August 2024 in Rastatt and for the major renovation program announced by the railways , that there are sufficiently powerful alternative routes. "Otherwise we will experience a huge chaos with the planned general renovation." However, he sees no attempt by the German government to strengthen the so-called secondary network.

Criticism of the delays in rail expansion in Germany was also voiced by the Association of Shipping Businesses (VAP) in Switzerland. The expansion of the Rhine Valley route, as promised in the Lugano Treaty between Germany and Switzerland, is being delayed further.

The urgently needed increase in capacity and operational stabilization for transit, import and export traffic is a long time coming: construction sites that impede the main and alternative axes at the same time are still the order of the day. Meanwhile, the supply situation in Switzerland is getting worse every day, not least because of the low water level on the Rhine.

The quick electrification of the route Wörth - Lauterbourg - Strasbourg is demanded by the shipping industry. The Swiss parliament has paved the way for active Swiss participation in the expansion of the north-south corridor on the French side as well. This is intended to create a parallel route that puts an end to the chaos on the construction site and ensures both transit and import and export traffic, which is important for the Swiss economy.

Author: SDA