The ministers voted unanimously in favour of implementing measures to allow longer freight trains to operate in Germany. The ministers believe that increasing the proportion of 740m-long trains in Germany will lead to a shift in freight from road to rail.

At present only 11% of freight trains are 740m long with 35 wagons, which is expected to become the standard in Europe by 2030. A further 25% are between 600 and 700m long, while 64% are less than 600m long.

“It is a clear signal for federal transport minister Mr Alexander Dobrindt that the era of network bottlenecks and short freight trains must now come to an end,” says Mr Dirk Flege, managing director of the German Pro-Rail Alliance.

Flege estimates that the 66 upgrade measures for the operation of 740m freight trains identified by German infrastructure manager DB Networks will only cost between €200m and €300m. “The measures will greatly benefit the economy and the environment, and are not difficult to implement,” Flege says. “It often only involves moving signals and extending passing loops.”