German Passau corridor closes for renovation 11/04/24

< Back to list



As Germany is planning for much-needed rail infrastructure renovations, points of contention arise. While renovations are necessary for the outdated network, significant infrastructure downtime could lead to serious consequences for the rail freight industry. Especially the Passau corridor closure is causing sweaty palms.


Germany is planning to renew its rail infrastructure network. In an interview with Süddeutsche Zeitung, a Deutsche Bahn (DB) representative said that Germany is falling behind in modernisation. DB will be working on the renovation of tracks, catenaries, signaling technology, stations and more to maintain railway traffic.

However, infrastructure works also hinder traffic. For construction purposes, it would be most efficient to close the routes altogether, according to DB. But the closures would last about five months, which rail carriers are not going to be enthusiastic about. In Germany’s southern state Bavaria alone, the closures would affect a total of 700 kilometres of tracks.

Obertraubling-Passau corridor

The primary point of contention is the Obertraubling-Passau corridor. This corridor connects North Sea ports with Austria, Hungary and the countries of the Balkans. However, the travel speeds and capacity are too low in many places for such an important axis, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Regensburg stated in a report in 2020.

Building is a necessity, concurs the managing director of Die Güterbahnen Peter Westenberger. Meanwhile, Westenberger expresses concern over the projected five-month downtime on the corridor. Rail operators will need to divert their trains along different routes, of which there are not enough.

Rerouting is possible, but it would lead to an additional 160 to 200 kilometres in travelling distance. The shorter variations also happen to be the most congested routes, which provides an additional hurdle. The longer 200-kilometre diversion leads through Czechia.

Image: Diversion routes proposed by DB and Die Güterbahnen. Source: LinkedIn/Die Güterbahnen.

Reverse modal shift

Westenberger fears that rail operators, which already struggle financially, could lose freight to road transportation. Such a reverse modal shift may not be temporary, limited to the duration of construction works. Instead, already struggling rail operators might lose out to the road permanently, as has already been happening in other countries, according to Westenberger.

While DB’s diversion plan is not yet finished, Die Güterbahnen calls for a more “gentle” approach. “We support the corridor renovations but warn of the burdens on the industry if concepts are not as gentle as possible for companies. What does that mean? Diversion routes that are as well developed as possible, financial compensation for detours and comprehensive and punctual communication between InfraGO and the railway companies. We hope for a better concept for this corridor from DB in the near future,” the association says.