Germany-Italy intermodal rail freight traffic “disastrous” due to cocktail of disruption

Intermodal logistics provider Kombiverkehr is calling for €250m of immediate aid for forwarders and others involved in Germany-Italy intermodal supply chains due to “unprecedented” disruption.

Kombiverkehr asserts that over the last few weeks, the established Gotthard and Brenner routes have been struck by a cocktail of supply chain disruption including accidents, engineering works and border controls. The company describes the situation in intermodal rail freight traffic between Germany and Italy as “disastrous”.

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.

In a press release, Kombiverkehr states: “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.”

One alternative route is the Mannheim to Basel section of the Rheintal line, however this is closed until October 7. Other alternative routes are causing problems due to the “line profiles, electrification, too little overall capacity in terms of traction and personnel and ultimately too high a volume of trains.”

Most 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, businesses are forcing their forwarders to send shipments mainly by road due to an accident at Rastatt, which is almost impossible given that their vehicle parks are tailored specifically to the requirements of combined transport.

According to Kombiverkehr, the closure of the Rheintal route at Rastatt constitutes “the biggest loss of railway infrastructure that Europe has ever seen.”

The complaints of the German rail provider do not end there. Border controls are apparently making the situation even worse. 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. Kombiverkehr claims it is “effectively impossible to schedule transports even only approximately in line with customers’ wishes”.

The call for financial compensation from the government is due to additional business expenses incurred by the disruption, such as those relating to vehicle and personnel costs.

Urging politicians to act, Kombiverkehr concludes: “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?”

Source: Kombiverkehr