The line, which is one of Europe’s key north-south freight arteries, is due to remain closed until October 7 and freight operators have been forced to find alternative routes, leading to huge logistical problems.

The CEOs of DB and SBB together with their counterparts at Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) and French National Railways (SNCF) formed a task force on August 25, and have been constantly analysing the situation ever since.

Several measures have been introduced to optimise resource utilisation, including training drivers on diversionary routes.

The measures introduced for using the resources available to maximum effect include training for train personnel in using the alternative routes. One of these, the Stuttgart - Hattingen line, had been closed for engineering work, and was reopened for passenger and freight traffic on September 6. This means a total of around 60 trains a day can now be operated.

Around 30% of demand for freight paths can currently be met and this is expected to rise to 50-60% within the next few weeks.

The two CEOs agreed that the lessons learned from this experience must also be applied in the future, with alternative routes being identified much more quickly and a greater focus on the flexible use of personnel. Data exchange and coordination of engineering work schedules also need to be improved.