Freight train Dordrecht Zuid

Germany to fund private rail connections to encourage rail freight

The German government is increasing the funds for private investments in rail connections to encourage shipping goods by rail. From 2021 there will be 34 million euros available, which is more than double compared to the previous year. The goal is to increase the share of freight transport by rail to at least 25 percent by 2030. 

The Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) is stepping up its measures to provide companies with better access to the rail network, giving them more incentives to ship their goods and products on the environmentally friendly rail. Earlier this year, Angela Merkel said that ‘only with rail the climate goals can be achieved’, and a big part of this is moving goods from the road to the railways.

Easier route to rail

Federal Minister of Transport Andreas Scheuer: “The shorter and easier the route to the rail, the more likely companies are to transport their goods by rail. With a siding right in front of the door or a loading station nearby, the decision is easier. That is why we support private investments, promote the construction of transshipment stations and accelerate planning. In this way, we are improving companies’ access to rail and getting goods off the road.” The BMVI’s goal is to increase the share of freight transport by rail to at least 25 percent by 2030.

Deutsche Bahn is pleased with the new measures. Sigrid Nikutta from the DB Executive Board for Freight Transport: “Whether companies or municipalities who want to start with a siding for a workshop or industrial park: it is now much easier for everyone to get started with climate-friendly rail logistics. We at DB are happy to advise all customers on how a siding can get rolling as quickly as possible.”

State funds for private investments

With a federal funding programme from March 1, 2021, up to 50 percent of the costs for new and expansion, reactivation and maintenance of existing connections will be covered. The funds from the previous year will be more than doubled to 34 million euros,  which are available from 2021. Later on, from 2024, the funds will be further increased to 49 million euros. The total volume of the programme consists of 200 million euros for five years.

The Transport Ministry also wants to accelerate private investment in new access points through faster planning and fair cost sharing. Possible barriers that could discourage private investments are also among the main focal points. Private rail connections are linked to the rail network via a switch. The infrastructure companies, like DB Netz, are increasingly transferring their costs for operation and replacement, to private investors alone. For a fair distribution of costs, the BMVI issued a legal clarification in the General Railway Act. In order to provide financial support, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure will also be promoting the replacement of old points with the federal funding programme from March 1, 2021.

More freight stations in cities and municipalities

Another aspect of the new measures is investing more in small and medium-sized freight stations. The rural areas in particular are to benefit from this. To this end, the federal funding programme is expanded from March and will enable funding of up to 80 percent of the investment costs in multifunctional transfer points. The companies can then transport their goods to these locations and load them onto the rails in a bundle.

When building an industrial and commercial area, the connection to the rail network should already be considered and planned on site. Existing connections that are idle should be reactivated, according to the Ministry. In this way, transports can be bundled and goods from different companies can be brought together on the rails.

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Author: Esther Geerts

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