Germany needs longer freight trains

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Freight trains around Europe are standardised at 740 metres long – but not in Germany.

Instead, due to ‘network restrictions’, only 11 per cent of freight trains that operate in Germany are of the standard EU length.

To solve this problem, various passing loops around Germany would have to be lengthened and some existing bottlenecks eased.

According to information released by non-profit transport association the Pro-Rail Alliance (Allianz pro Schiene), the regional transport ministers in several German States, including North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse, Baden Württemberg, Brandenburg, and Saxony-Anhalt, all view 740-metre freight trains as a good way of shifting freight from the roads on to the railways.

The German Environment Agency is also promoting the use of longer freight trains to facilitate modal shift and help meet climate targets.

Germany’s regional transport ministers have just concluded their state transport ministers’ summit. Speaking afterwards, Baden-Württemberg transport minister Winfried Hermann (Green Party) commented: “Our Swiss neighbours are following the same goals and are upgrading their railway corridors and the Gotthard tunnel. That allows operations of trains with a length of 740 meters and creates more capacity.

“The German government should use the legislation on federal rail infrastructure construction to ensure that the network can be upgraded for more freight transport, as well improved electrification and other modernisation measures.”

State Secretary Sebastian Putz, from Saxony-Anhalt, was in complete agreement. “In the eastern German states, there is still a considerable backlog of rail infrastructure requirements,” he said. “For example, passing loops that are too short restrict rail freight transport, which forces many trains to be shorter than otherwise necessary.

“The upcoming legislation on federal rail infrastructure construction could put Germany on course this year to making the necessary upgrades to its infrastructure.”

Report by Nigel Wordsworth

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