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Current, Press Release, The Company
Operational situation in Italy worsens: Kombiverkehr calls for 250 million euros in immediate aid
  • Engineering works, border controls and overstretched alternative routes having unprecedented effect on transport operations
  • Established Gotthard and Brenner routes equally badly affected
  • Forwarding customers suffering under unacceptable additional costs

(Frankfurt/Main, 4 September 2017) The current operational situation in Germany-Italy transport via the established Gotthard and Brenner routes has led Frankfurt-based Kombiverkehr KG to call for 250 million euros in immediate aid for forwarders and companies involved in the transport chain. Over the last few weeks both of these routes have experienced negative impacts to an unprecedented level due to accidents, engineering works and border controls. Operators are finding it extremely difficult to schedule regular services in combined road-rail transport. This is particularly the case for small and medium-sized forwarders and logistics companies who have moved the bulk of their services to rail and are taking a financial hit day after day.

Alternative routes bring no relief due to Rheintal closure
The closure of the Mannheim to Basel section of the Rheintal line, which is expected to continue until 7 October 2017, is currently just one cause among many of the disastrous situation in intermodal rail freight traffic between Germany and Italy. While the infrastructure providers, railway operating companies and transport operators are all doing everything they can to keep rail services running as much as possible, it is becoming apparent that the alternative routes, too, are leading to severe problems in transport operations due to the line profiles, electrification, too little overall capacity in terms of traction and personnel and ultimately too high a volume of trains. A majority of the diverted trains are having to stop en route because of a lack of information for the onward journey, while diverted trains are overwhelmingly arriving at their destination terminals with delays of as much as several days. Increasingly, therefore, businesses are forcing their forwarders to send shipments mainly by road due to the accident at Rastatt, which is almost impossible given that their vehicle parks are tailored specifically to the requirements of Combined Transport. Whether the existing services run by operators can be offered again in comparable form after the Rheintal section reopens is very much open to question at the present moment in time. The consequences of this collapse in rail freight traffic will exceed those of the train drivers’ strike many times over. In our assessment, the closure of the Rheintal route at Rastatt constitutes the biggest loss of railway infrastructure that Europe has ever seen.

Border controls exacerbate operational situation further
The current situation for Italian services via the Brenner Pass is no different: on the most important section of the track between Munich and northern Italy, rail freight traffic has been completely knocked off course by the effects of uncoordinated infrastructure works and half to all-day border controls due to the refugee situation. It is effectively impossible to schedule transports even only approximately in line with customers’ wishes. “The situation in transport planning and operational control on the part of forwarders, transport operators and railway operating companies is getting increasingly out of hand and is having far-reaching economic consequences. It is simply no longer acceptable for us ourselves, but especially our customers”, criticised Armin Riedl, managing director of Kombiverkehr and Lokomotion, the traction company specialising in services to and from Italy. “Particularly in light of the fact that there have long been calls for internationally coordinated engineering works and diversion management, and that only recently our comments on the border control times in Raubling failed to garner any response whatsoever from the authorities, we doubt whether rail freight traffic, with its importance for transport, environmental and social policy, still enjoys any support in the current situation.” Although the rail freight transport master plan and the associated measures are intended to strengthen Combined Transport again in the medium and long term, politicians must face up to these issues and deliver appropriate solutions even in times of crisis such as now. “We cannot tolerate simply standing by and doing nothing. We see a danger that the transalpine intermodal railway system, which has been built up over decades and functioned well for years and on which so many logistics companies have collaborated so effectively, will fall to pieces”, commented Robert Breuhahn, Kombiverkehr's other managing director, on the extremely tense situation at the moment. The company is therefore calling for EUR 250 million in rapid and immediate financial aid from the government for the businesses involved, who have been faced with drastic additional expenses, such as for vehicle and personnel capacities, due to these events and circumstances. The immediate aid is to benefit all affected forwarding, traction and terminal operating companies and transport operators with a view to ensuring continued availability of the existing services so that the commitment and enormous sums invested to date in environmentally-friendly Combined Transport are not suddenly rendered worthless. The current situation in rail freight transport to and from Italy can only be described as an “absolute disaster”. And the question is, what are transport politicians doing about it?  

More than 270 forwarding customers affected at Kombiverkehr alone
As Europe’s largest operator, Kombiverkehr transports more than 350,000 truck consignments over the Gotthard and Brenner routes to and from Italy every year. Its current customer base for services in and out of Italy includes over 270 forwarding and logistics companies whose shipments by rail save the environment more than 400,000 tons of harmful carbon dioxide annually. The majority of the predominantly small and medium-sized enterprises have spent years investing in intermodal equipment, have geared their vehicle parks and all scheduling processes to rail freight transport and are reliant each day on timetabled services run by CT operators in order to offer safe, efficient and eco-friendly transport for industry and business.