Major difficulties in the movement of intermodal trains in Germany 03/06/22

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Major difficulties in the movement of intermodal trains in Germany

Renovation works have begun on the main railway lines used by intermodal carriers in Germany. For this reason, restrictions on rail traffic have been introduced, which reduce the possibility of transporting cargo by rail.

Photo: Pixabay

In May, the modernisation of the railway lines in the Scandinavia-Mediterranean and Rhine-Alpes corridors in Germany began. The capacity of the rail network for freight carriers has been reduced by 25 to 30%. The difficulties will last until September and, according to DB Cargo, shippers and forwarders must prepare for delays and suspensions of some trains.

"The current operational situation shows clearly and painfully that we are facing a dilemma that cannot be solved in the short term: simultaneous expansion and modernization is no longer possible with good operational quality and punctuality for too many days and on too many railway lines," said Richard Lutz, President of German Railways (DB), at a press conference.

The intermodal operator Hupac also warns of possible difficulties. The company intends to invest in additional resources to ensure the continuity of supply chains. "The main purpose of such investments is to ensure a constant flow of traffic, which is not as much affected by the difficulties as it is currently the case. These problems will continue to occur or intermodal cargo volumes may increase. Also in this case, it is good to be able to ensure smooth freight traffic. We need to be more creative and share the burden with everyone," commented Michail Stahlut, CEO of Hupac.

Problems in ports

Restrictions on rail traffic have a negative impact on German ports. The intermodal terminals Eurogate, CTA and CTB stopped accepting trains with export cargo on 24 May. These difficulties will last until 18/19 June. An additional problem is congestion in the ports of Hamburg and Bremerhaven.

— The acceptance of export consignments is restricted by the application of the "7-day departure window" rule before the expected voyage time of the vessel, even in cases where this principle is applied correctly when sending the train to Hamburg, but there are further delays of the vessel when the train is on its way to Hamburg. As a result, the container arrives at the CTA earlier than 7 days, and the terminal refuses to accept it because it arrived too early, METRANS said in a statement.

The current difficulties caused by the accumulation of a large number of construction works on the railway network are not the first such situation in Germany. In previous years, the German infrastructure manager DB Netz was criticized for such an investment policy by many carriers and forwarders, industry organizations, as well as by the European Commission. In February this year. DB Netz announced that despite the greater scope of modernization works planned for this year, there will be no major difficulties. Unfortunately, they could not be avoided.

Read also: DB plans to spend €13.6 billion on investments in 2022

Problems appear on important intermodal corridors also in Poland. In May, one track on the Rzepin – Toporów line was closed for 2 weeks. Further track closures will be introduced in June after the timetable is updated.

Author: Łukasz Kuś