Another closure on the Elbe Valley causes headaches for companies

Image: Shutterstock. Michael Nosek

Apart from the planned closure of the Elbe Valley route between Czechia and Germany in late October, there will be another disruption on the corridor starting on 25 August and lasting for three days. DB Netz will completely shut down operations on the route to “ensure that the Electronic Signal Box at Bad Schandau Ost can be put into operation.” Just like in October, the German Infrastructure Manager will provide alternatives, which, however, are assessed as problematic.

The placement of the Electronic Signal Box at Bad Schandau Ost is the main reason the Elbe Valley route will be closed for three days in August and ten days in October. DB Netz aims to install the equipment in the coming days and then run tests in autumn to ensure it works properly. METRANS, which uses the corridor linking Czechia to Germany quite heavily, mentioned that the most affected traffic will concern trains to and from German ports and the port of Rotterdam.

Insufficient capacity

DB Netz will provide the three following alternative routes to replace the closed line: the Hof-Schirnding-Cheb route between Chechia-Germany, the Ebersbach-Rumburk route also between Czechia and Germany, and the Horka-Wegliniec-Opole-Bohumin route between Czechia, Poland and Germany. However, the routes will be used for mixed traffic, meaning that the capacity for freight trains will be anyway limited. On top of that, the diversions are quite longer, especially the one going through Poland.

Rail Cargo Group also uses the Elbe Valley route. In October, the closure will affect nine RCG trains in total, which will divert via the Polish route. The company mentioned before to that it will be able to manage and absorb the impact of the closure in October and that traffic to Northern European ports will not be affected. The impact in August will be considerably lower for the Austria-based company.

On the other hand, METRANS will also use alternative routes. Between 25-28 August, when the closure will be shorter, the operator expects trains to run with delays. However, in October, the company said that rail diversions will not be sufficient to carry out enough traffic. “The capacity is limited, while the maximum weight for loaded containers will be 27 tons, including tare,” said the operator.

Shift to trucks in October

Most importantly, METRANS mentioned that the only realistic possibility to compensate for lost traffic and volumes would be a shift to trucks. “In case of interest, we can transport containers using a shuttle connection by trucks between METRANS Prague and METRANS Česká Třebová terminals and METRANS Berlin terminal, which will then distribute the shipments by rail to Hamburg and Bremerhaven and vice versa,” communicated the company.

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Author: Nikos Papatolios

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

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