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DUSSELDORF: December 11, 2017. Speaking at meeting of rail operators last week, DB Netz CEO Frank Sennhenn expressed regret for his company's involvement in the seven-week line closure at Rastatt, Germany caused by subsidence due to tunnel construction.

More than 200 representatives from transport companies, intermodal operators, terminals, railway networks, infrastructure managers and transport ministries attended the meeting organised by the Swiss intermodal operator Hupac.

"Intermodal logistics is based on the perfect integration of a multitude of production factors," commented Hupac CEO Bernhard Kunz. "We need to take this opportunity to tackle some well-known deficiencies in order to improve market conditions and promote modal shift."

Rastatt protestDeclaring the closure of the Rhine Valley line for seven weeks led to the biggest rail logistics crisis ever experienced in Europe, Kunz told the meeting the line closure had led to a shortage of loading equipment because the units were tied up in the north-south pipeline; terminals stopped accepting shipments because of train backlogs; railcars and locos were not available because they were waiting for alternative routings; and there was a shortage of engine drivers because detours absorbed up to 2-3 times more resources.

P&O Ferrymasters Intermodal director Wim Blomme asked: "Where are the contingency plans of rail, where is the agility required to support the supply chain at all times? DB Netz should take up the responsibility and compensate the rail industry for the huge damage caused by the Rastatt disruption. When incidents happen the persons responsible should not shy away of assuming their responsibility so that confidence can be restored," he continued.

Sennhenn responded saying: "The whole sector has to double its efforts to make rail freight more flexible in daily business and especially during incidents. Language barriers have to be overcome, braking rules, access to route knowledge and other interoperability topics need to be simplified and harmonized; and European infrastructure parameters must be aligned to allow easier re-routings. Rastatt is an opportunity, and we invite all stakeholders to join us on this journey", he continued.

Swiss Infrastructure Management representative Rudolf Büchi said his organization was "performing the Rastatt follow-up together with DB Netz as a tangible example of close international cooperation."

In late November the European Rail Freight Association, the Network of European Railways and the International Union for Road-Rail Combined Transport, called on DB Netz, a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn, to acknowledge full liability for the loss of business "and to propose a clear, fair and easy structured financial settlement of the Rastatt incident within a short time".

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