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High-speed crash forecast for German truckers

BERLIN: February 21, 2017. The German Pro-Rail Alliance estimates the share of freight by rail in Germany dropped from 18 percent to 17.6 percent in 2016, as road freight volumes rose 1.5 percent year-on-year while rail freight declined 1.6 percent in the same period.

Citing Germany's Federal Statistics Office, the Alliance said the country's total shipment volume last year was 4.6 billion tonnes, with freight by rail totaling 361.3 million tonnes.

Pro-Rail Alliance"Rail freight transport is increasingly becoming a big worry for policy makers," said managing director of the Pro-Rail Alliance Dirk Flege. "With the publication of the official statistics, the federal government has today been given a painful reminder of where its HGV-friendly policies will lead."

Flege said Swiss and Austrian freight operators already have a 42 percent and 30 percent market share in their respective countries. "Germany's policies on shifting transport mode are going the wrong way: from the railways onto the roads. With regards to our targets on the environment and the climate, this is going to be a high-speed crash," he predicted.

The Pro-Rail Alliance has also warned the federal German government not to scapegoat rail freight company management, claiming the framework conditions for the country's rail freight is heavily biased in favor of truck operators: "Lower road charges for heavy goods vehicles, increasing track access charges for rail operators, higher taxes on rail traction and increasing renewable energy levies on goods trains have completely distorted the pricing structure, to the detriment of the railways," argued Flege.

The Alliance claims politicians continue to subsidize diesel truck fuel, despite falling prices, while climate-friendly railway operators "fight market conditions that are becoming ever more difficult".

The group also says politicians are "negligent" in electrifying Germany's rail network which, although at 60 percent, is "way behind" Switzerland (100 percent), Belgium (85 percent), the Netherlands and Sweden (both 76 percent), Italy (71 percent) and Austria (70 percent).

The Alliance includes 23 non-profit organizations plus train and infrastructure operators, railway technology manufacturers, construction companies, banks and insurance companies. Their combined annual turnover from rail-related activities is €35 billion.

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