Germany: rail freight to increase 25 per cent by 2030
2021 will be the starting point for more investments in Germany’s rail sector. The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) aims to stimulate companies to use rail more for the transportation of their products. To achieve that it has introduced some measures that allow better access to the sector. Among them, one can find plans for easier and faster access to rail infrastructure. Additionally, the Ministry set up a funding program of 200 million euros to encourage private investments.
Rail freight transport is becoming a central part of the German political and development agenda. At the beginning of the year, the German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated in an interview that “only with rail will we achieve our climate goals” and that “we want more goods to be transported by rail”. Almost a month later, the Minister of Transport Andreas Scheuer commented that “the shorter and easier the route to rail, the more likely companies will use it to transport their goods. This is why we support private investments, promote the construction of transhipment stations and accelerate planning”.
State funding and costs
To promote more rail freight in the following years, the BMVI will increase funds for private investments on rail connections. As of March 1st, the government’s funding program will cover half of the costs related to construction, expansion, reactivation and maintenance of links. This means that for 2021 BMVI will dispose 34 million euros for this purpose. From 2024 and onwards these funds will increase to 49 million euros annually.
Moreover, the Ministry wants to establish a more efficient business model concerning private investments and promote better and faster planning. Possible barriers that could discourage private investments are also among the main focal points. Specifically, the BMVI wants to ensure the fair sharing of costs between infrastructure companies and investors. That is why it issued a legal clarification in the General railway Act, promoting proportionality of expenses.
Decentralisation and pre-planning
A fascinating aspect of the new measures is that of investing in smaller or medium-sized freight yards. BMVI puts rural areas in the spotlight for two reasons: First of all, non-metropolitan regions could benefit financially from such a development. Secondly, one of the new state aid plans’ primary purposes is to provide fast and easy connectivity with rail. It will become easier for potential investors to acquire access to railways in a relatively short-distance range by constructing or re-activating regional freight yards. In simple words, the Ministry desires that companies who wish to turn to rail will have a freight yard nearby.
Finally, construction of industrial or commercial areas will include plans for rail connections on site from now on. Consequently, the hubs to be will either provide railway transport for their products since the beginning of their operation or will be able to expand with this option since they will already possess the needed plans and studies.