A new partnership of 12 German rail freight operators, including DB Cargo, Bentheimer Eisenbahn, Sweg, RheinCargo and WLE, known as the Future Network for Single Wagon Freight Transport, is seeking to grow wagonload traffic through better coordination and joint marketing.

The Association of German Transport Companies (VDV), supported by rail freight lobby group European Railways Network (NEE), is coordinating the new group. Other VDV members plus rail freight operators from other European countries are expected to join in the near future; in total more than 180 German rail freight operators are members of VDV.

Wagonload traffic accounts for around 18% of German rail freight traffic. These services are used by large and medium-sized companies, and it is seen as an important service for the overall economy.

Goals and commitments

The members of the new Future Network have agreed several specific goals and commitments:

  • to jointly operate a high-quality network for wagonload traffic
  • to introduce strong marketing with the goal of achieving a joint shift in traffic to rail
  • pool resources to enable all production partners to purchase individual wagon transport slots in the network with the aim of improving rail’s competitiveness with road transport
  • publish and maintain a reliable overview of the options for wagonload transport for potential users with a view to taking opportunities to establish and secure funding for new rail connections, including to industrial sites, which encourage modal shift
  • employ technical innovations, including in wagon design and digital couplers, which are considered especially beneficial for wagonload traffic through reductions in the time and cost of marshalling operations
  • work together to digitise operational transport processes and to standardise data exchange, and
  • comply with competition law in all cooperative activities.

“The cooperation of freight railways should not only stabilise existing rail transport, but it can shift truck traffic to the rails,” says Mr Ludolf Kerkeling NEE chairman, and member of the board of Havelländische Railway. “However, to do this the government must also reduce the subsidies available to road transport.”