Marshalling Yard in Germany. Source: mirokola/Pixabay

Rail prioritisation of energy supplies in Germany: much ado about nothing?

Image: Pixabay. Mirokola

The prioritisation of trains carrying energy supplies in Germany was enforced two months ago, on 24 August and is planned to stay in place for six months. At the time, rail freight companies had mixed reactions to the Energy Security Transport Regulation policy. However, according to spokespersons from Deutsche Bahn and the Network of European Railways (NEE), things have been going relatively smoothly so far.

DB told RailFreight.com that RUs have not submitted many requests since the policy was implemented, resulting in six daily trains running since the beginning of October. “The punctuality of these trains has been above average and impact on the overall punctuality only minimal. No existing paths had to be changed,” DB pointed out. Sources from NEE added that, so far, it has not been necessary to reactivate noisy freight wagons, which the policy permits.

What has DB done so far?

NEE pointed out that the policy applies only to Germany. “This does not apply in the Netherlands, where a lot of coal comes from, which could lead to problems at border stations,” the spokesperson specified. However, DB said they “informed all concerned neighbouring infrastructure managers and requested their support in case international energy transports request treatment under the regulation”.

DB has also stated that its subsidiary DB Cargo is ready to reactivate roughly 150 coal wagons per month. The purpose of these wagons is to cope with the increasing demand for energy supplies that will occur during the winter. They are also equipped with whisper brakes to make up for the possible noise.

The rules of the regulation

DB shed some light on how the regulation is being implemented: “EnKo trains (trains carrying energy supplies) that have been requested with prioritisation are given priority in the dispatching before all other traffic on the network, with the only exception of urgent auxiliary trains”. Applicants can request EnKo transport for four reasons. First, to ensure uninterrupted operations of refineries as well as to avoid vacancies of mineral oil tank farms supplied by rail.

The third reason is to comply with the stockholding obligations of energy facilities. German energy plants, in fact, must store extra supplies in case of emergencies. Finally, EnKo transport can be requested to ensure the operations of other energy plants to exchange their fuel so that it can be used to secure the energy supply.

Requests for train path allocations must be submitted ten calendar days, at the latest, before the transport date. “The proof of these justifications shall be submitted with the train path application to the track infrastructure manager or to the service facility operator. They should also include a confirmation from the contracting entity that the notified transport meets the revision requirements,” the DB spokesperson specified.

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Author: Marco Raimondi

Marco Raimondi is an editor of RailFreight.com, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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