Presseinfo-verbände 6-2-2023

Railway freight traffic: We can do more than Wissing thinks we can

Industry representatives take a position on the coalition’s highway controversy

Undisputed measures for expanding railway traffic are bogging down in the federal government because the FDP is also intent on building new highways. A collection of railway and freight traffic associations vehemently objected to this situation today in a joint press conference.  
„We have now come to the point where the Minister for Transport belittles railway freight traffic in order to legitimise the construction of new roads. The truth of the matter is actually quite simple: With rails, we must accelerate everything; with roads, only the rehabilitation,“ states the Managing Director of the rail advocacy group Allianz pro Schiene, Dirk Flege. Peter Westenberger, Managing Director of the railway freight association DIE GÜTERBAHNEN, calls upon the coalition to scrap the overblown debate that has grown into a mess of subsidies and counter-subsidies. „The clock is ticking. To accelerate the undisputed railway expansion, all that is needed are the coalition agreement and the result of the Railway Acceleration Commission. Wissing has left the 70 suggestions untouched for a full two months now.“
Westenberger further emphasised the performance of railway freight traffic under difficult conditions: „DIE GÜTERBAHNEN delivered in full during the pandemic and the energy crisis. Transport volume and the share of total freight traffic are now both significantly higher than before the coronavirus. Starting from the current roughly 20 per cent, our companies consider growth to 35 per cent by 2035 to be possible if the federal government does its homework in improving the infrastructure and policy conditions. This would mean 10 to 15 per cent fewer heavy goods vehicles on the roads than today. We don“t need to build new highways to achieve a growth in railway traffic.“
GDL Chairperson Claus Weselsky reaffirmed the need to make up for the capacity advantage enjoyed by road traffic due to decades of road-oriented infrastructure policy by accelerating and prioritising the expansion of the rail network and vigorously modernising the existing network. Weselsky: „It is now more true than ever: all eyes are on the railroads when it comes to achieving the policy goals. Railways must be given priority in the allocation of resources—in planning and approval, in the courts and in route construction.“
For Prof. Matthias Gather of the Erfurt University of Applied Sciences, railway freight traffic is the „blind spot of German transportation policy“. In recent years, apart from slight modifications to the HGV toll, there have been no active attempts to create incentives for shifting goods traffic to the rail network. Gather: „The example of Austria shows that with an active transportation policy clearly focused on railroads, a railway freight share of over 30 per cent is not unrealistic in the transport market. However, further expansion of the road network does nothing to solve the problems with transporting goods by road.“
Malte Lawrenz, Chairperson of the wagon keepers association VPI emphasised the importance of reliable policy: „The statements of the Federal Minister for Transport on the future capabilities of the rail network are regrettable and demotivating. It has been shown in numerous master plans and most recently by the Rail Acceleration Commission established by the Minister for Transport how the railways can be invigorated. The knowledge is there. Railway freight traffic has tremendous capacity reserves, which can be increased through conscientious modernisation.“
Flege added: „In the coalition agreement, everyone agreed that the railways should be expanded, while roads were not even mentioned. With his fixation on new highways, Minister for Transport Volker Wissing is creating internal conflict within the coalition. This has the effect of putting the brakes on the accelerated railway expansion, which should have been under way for some time now. This obstruction further intensifies the problems in the transportation infrastructure rather than solving them.“

Ihr Pressekontakt