FRENCH National Railways and German Railway announced on September 5 that they were forming a working party to study ways of improving cross-border rail freight between their networks. The team will be headed by Dr Helmut Draxler, whose term as Director General of Austrian Federal Railways came to an end on July 31.

Last year, over 55 million tonnes of freight moved between France and Germany, the biggest single cross-border flow within the European Union. Of this, only 14% moved by rail, and the two operators envisage that there is considerable scope for growth. According to DB President Hartmut Mehdorn, the European single market opens up opportunities for longer hauls, provided that border crossing delays can be eliminated.

SNCF President Louis Gallois said that DB Cargo and Fret SNCF planned to set up a joint management team by the end of this year to oversee the operation of international freight services. Where possible, operating patterns will be revised to reduce delays caused by changing locos and crews.