Strike or not, rail freight still faces nuisance

Image: Shutterstock. Radowitz

The grand 50-hour-long strike organised by the rail association EVG did not take place in the end, at least not in the magnitude it was supposed to. Nevertheless, several operators braced for its impact, and since they learned on short notice that the industrial action was called off, they are still set to experience some considerable nuisance.

The last few days have seen rail freight operators and logistics companies going back and forth regarding the scheduling of their services. Some planned to cancel most of their trains and others part of their services. Simultaneously, some companies had alternatives in mind during the announced strike period and rebound plans after its end.

The short notice in the communications of DB and EVG and the fact that companies had already designated their plans for the strike days caught them off guard in many cases. In the end, the strike and its impact were avoided. However, the industry did not have enough time to respond to the rapid changes, and consequently, it will still experience some nuisance in the form of train delays and backlog.

Race to fill the shifts

Deutsche Bahn would experience the biggest strike impact since the industrial action involved most of its employees. After the settlement with EVG, the company had to contact thousand of employees at short notice during the weekends to fill up the shifts and achieve relatively normal operations on Monday, 15 May, morning.

“Rail operations started largely according to plan on Monday morning, with around 90 per cent of the regularly planned trains running in long-distance traffic”, commented the company without excluding the possibility of traffic restrictions insisting till Tuesday due to the service backlog.

Delays in restarting services

Several companies, including Rail Cargo Group, METRANS, CargoBeamer, DB Cargo Netherlands and Hupac, were affected by the quick change of plans because they could not recommence their services right away. An RCG spokesperson said that delays might still occur due to train rescheduling that had already taken place, especially for services to, from and through Germany.

On the other hand, CargoBeamer, METRANS and DB Cargo Netherlands are in the same shoes. CargoBeamer was planning to cancel three trains during the weekend, affecting the Kaldenkirchen-Domodossola and Neuss-Perpignan routes. The company did not manage to reactivate those routes after Saturday’s strike call-off and recommenced operations on Monday evening.

The same goes for DB Cargo Netherlands, which still expected train cancellations on Monday, and traffic between The Netherlands and Germany to return to normal on the evening of the same day around 18:00. As for METRANS, the company had to reschedule all cancelled trains during the weekend for Monday and Tuesday, thus expecting a two-day operational backlog.

Finally, Hupac was planning to intensify rotations on its entire network immediately after the strike, despite the bank holiday on Thursday, which would prove a good solution to restore at least parts of the lost traffic, even now that the strike is not happening anymore.

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Author: Nikos Papatolios

Nikos Papatolios is the Chief Editor of, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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