After cutting subsidies, Germany also increases track access charges
DB InfraGo, which took over Germany’s rail network management effective January 2024, plans to increase track access charges by 13,4 per cent starting December 2024. The decision follows a substantial 49 per cent cut in subsidies for track access fees, which will probably occur during 2024. Peter Westenberger, managing director of the association DIE GÜTERBAHNEN, speaks of a “false start” for the new infrastructure manager.
Westenberger also mentions that the increase is “unprecedented” and that the decision constitutes “another blow to the rail freight industry.” The association underlines that the two acts are problematic individually; however, their combination could lead to an overall increase in track access fees of up to 113 per cent, which could be detrimental for rail freight operators.
“It turns out that the competitive conditions for rail compared to trucks are deteriorating faster and more than ever before,” continues Westenberger. He also stresses that DB InfraGo is “off to a false start” considering the burdens it poses to operators who have been captivated by “high costs, poor quality and a lack of understanding” for years.
On a positive note, the decision could be averted since it still needs approval by the German Federal Network Agency, which is holding a hearing on the topic this week.
Reduced TAC subsidies
Due to federal budget cuts in 2024, the German rail freight sector will experience substantial funding losses. These losses will affect support for single wagonload (SWL) traffic, track access charges subsidies, and technological development funds. Specifically, subsidies for track access charges (Trassenpreisfoerderung) expenses will be reduced by 170.7 million euros, 49 per cent less than last year.