Express train paths back on German timetable in 2024
Starting from next year, it will be possible again to book an express train path on the German railway network. This possibility was excluded by the infrastructure manager since the prioritisation of coal trains, a support scheme for coal transportation that started last summer.
With the implementation of the Energy Security Transport Ordinance on 31 August 2022, infrastructure manager DB Netze adjusted its timetable, to create the needed capacity for freight trains transporting energy supplies (EnKo trains). Consequently, the registration of express train paths in rail freight transport (SGV) was suspended.
Express trains in timetable 2024
Although the prioritisation of EnKo trains remains in place until the end of March next year, DB Netze will allow requests for express train paths starting from the beginning of the year.
“We as DB Netz AG have decided, due to market demands and the previously low level of use of the EnKo routes, to accept orders with the addition “Express “ to make it possible again for the 2024 timetable”, it writes in a notice that was published on the website Drehscheibe-online. This is despite the fact that the ordinance was recently extended.
Prioritsation extended, needed or not?
The Energy Security Transport Ordinance was initially scheduled to end on 28 February 2023, but was recently extended until 31 March 2024. The German Federal Council voted in favour of extending the ordinance on 10 February, which was brought to life to assure that sufficient energy supplies could be distributed throughout Germany in the winter, in the absence of gas from Russia.
However, industry groups have said that an extension was not really necessary. As NEE managing director Peter Westenberger pointed out in February: “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”. Deutsche Bahn itself said in October that it had not received a significant amount of requests from railway undertakings.