Germany extends rail priority for energy supplies
The German Federal Council voted in favour of extending, until 31 March 2024, the ordinance that gives priority to freight trains transporting energy supplies (EnKo trains) on the German rail network. This is what a spokesperson from German rail freight association Die Guterbahnen (NEE) told RailFreight.com. The decision came despite NEE and the Association of German Transport Companies (VDV) claiming the measure was not necessary.
Ahead of the Federal Council’s vote on Friday 10 February, the two associations stated that the policy should have been discontinued because it did not have a significant impact. The timetables specifically designed by German infrastructure manager DB Netze did not, according to the two associations, bring any advantages compared to the regular ones. Already at the end of October, Deutsche Bahn said that it did not receive a significant amount of requests from railway undertakings to change allocation paths for EnKo trains.
As NEE managing director Peter Westenberger pointed out: “During the 140 days of traffic, a total of only 2,334 freight train timetables for loaded or empty journeys by energy trains with prioritisation applications were created at DB Netze. This roughly corresponds to the volume of half a day’s traffic in German rail freight traffic”. NEE, in October, pointed out that no additional wagons had to be deployed to cope with the ordinance.
The EnSiTrV ordinance
The German government began working on a solution to replace the supply of gas from Russia due to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine already at the beginning of August 2022. By the end of the month, the cabinet approved the Energy Safety Transport Ordinance (EnSiTrV). The ordinance was conceived to have alternative energy supplies to the ones coming from Russia, namely gas. Trains carrying coal and mineral oil in Germany were therefore given priority on DB Netze’s timetable, even ahead of passenger trains.
Various coal mines were in fact reopened in Germany to make sure that German households could be heated throughout the winter. VDV vice president Joachim Berends underlined that a combination of barge and rail transport made sure that the additional coal needed to replace gas from Russia could reach power plants. “Even before the end of winter it is clear that the large number of freight railways have lived up to their responsibility and have done their job,” he added.
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