Germany wants to give freight trains priority more often

Source: RailFreight
Date: 27th February 2023

Germany’s secretary of state for digital affairs and transport believes that freight and passenger transport should be treated equally when there are conflicting timetables on the railways. Currently, regular passenger transport is still prioritised over freight transport when several parties request the same train path or want to run simultaneously on the same route.

The minister revealed this in an interview with the German trade journal Eisenbahntechnische Rundschau. “Freight transport has equal rights. It is not going to happen that passenger transport gets all its wishes fulfilled first, and only then freight transport gets the rest of the train paths that are still available”, the German politician stated.

Germany’s secretary of state for digital affairs and transport believes that capacity and train path allocation processes should be more efficient and fair and occur according to the needs of rail users. Therefore, the German ministry of digital affairs and transport wants to include capacity planning in current legislation even during this legislature. According to the German state secretary, it would be optimal to identify the needs of all parties involved before drawing up a timetable. The timetable should then be based more on the demand of the various railway companies.

Capacity optimisation
‘With this, we aim to reduce serious train path conflicts and optimise capacity use on the rail network. We believe this approach works better than the uncoordinated requesting of train paths,’ Germany’s secretary of state for digital affairs and transport said. She also argued that implementing such plans will be challenging and that she expects to work closely with the rail industry.

Currently, railway companies can request train paths, after which the German rail operator DB Netz has to make a distribution. The priority rule is applied when several parties request the same train path. Under this, trains operating on a regular timetable, which includes passenger transport, are given priority over a freight train for which the train path has also been requested.

‘This has not been good for freight transport,’ Germany’s secretary of state for digital affairs and transport argued. She further explained that there is now an option for the German ministry to deviate from this priority rule by carrying out testing on a particular route. ‘However, we have found this might be insufficient,’ the politician said.

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