German freight yard (Photo: DB).

GERMANY: A package of measures to improve access to the rail network and incentivise companies to switch freight from lorries to more environmentally-friendly trains has come into effect this month.

The initiative is designed to support the Ministry of Transport & Digital Infrastructure’s aim of increasing rail’s share of the freight market to at least 25% by 2030.

A total of €200m is being made available over five years to provide co-funding of up to 50% for the construction, expansion, reactivation and maintenance of existing rail connections to industry and business sites. Co-funding of up to 80% is available for multimodal transfer facilities at small and medium-sized freight yards, including those in rural areas.

Changes have been made to the planning process to accelerate private investment in rail freight facilities, offering simplified approval procedures for sidings of up to 2 000 m and industrial connections of up to 3 000 m.

The ministry also plans to clarify the rules around the cost of providing and maintaining connections from the main line to private sidings, so that infrastructure managers such as DB Netz do not transfer excessive costs to the private investors.

The ministry said the provision of rail connections should be considered when industrial and commercial areas are being planned, with out-of-use connections being reactivated and facilities provided for goods from different companies to be bundled for rail transport.

‘The shorter and easier the route to rail, the more likely companies are to transport their goods by rail’, explained Minister of Transport Andreas Scheuer. ‘With a siding right in front of the door or a loading point nearby, the decision is easier. That is why we support private investment, promote the construction of transhipment points and accelerate planning. This is how we will improve companies’ access to rail and get goods off the road.’