Study: Rastatt disruption

The rail infrastructure tunnel collapse in August-September 2017 near the German town of Rastatt in the Rhine Valley, which became known as the ’Rastatt-incident’, has caused an unprecedented disruption to rail freight-based logistics chains throughout Europe. This man-made disruption highlighted the incompatibility of national monopoly-based rail infrastructure management and the increasingly cross-border rail freight traffic that moves across the European Union.

 

Two associations of freight railway undertakings (ERFA and NEE) and UIRR, the association for Road-Rail Combined Transport, jointly entrusted the Hanseatic Transport Consultancy (HTC) to quantify the losses caused by the Rastatt-incident to rail freight stakeholders and their customers.

 

The study was unveiled today.

 

The total losses were found to amount to €2.048 billion:

 

  • €969 million losses of rail logistics companies such as Railway undertakings, CT operators and LSPs
  • €771 million of losses suffered by manufacturing industries and
  • €308 million losses suffered by related entities such as infrastructure managers and terminal operators.

The lessons of the Rastatt-incident are being addressed in European working groups, which are aiming to develop a cross-border contingency management handbook for rail infrastructure managers and railway undertakings, as well as to address some key operational matters. It is equally important to understand the overall economic impact of the Rastatt-incident. The Study published today fills in this important gap by translating the incident’s effects into the language of business: figures and monetised amounts.

 

Ralf-Charley Schultze, President of UIRR, highlighted that the confidence of the market players in rail freight and Combined Transport can only be restored by adopting adequate European-level contingency management procedures, which must include a financial instrument to immediately assist stakeholders with the extra costs of impact-mitigation measures. The operators of rail freight transport chains are not capitalised to underwrite these kinds of expenses over a prolonged period.

 

Carole Coune, Acting Secretary General of ERFA pointed out that European freight railway undertakings were operationally and financially heavily harmed and are not able to bear these types of losses. ERFA urges that compensation claims are resolved and paid quickly. The focus can then be on ensuring that any future incidents do not have the same consequences or impact on competitiveness towards road. The development of contingency plans and improved performance by Infrastructure Managers, with a focus on cross-border movements must be the positive outcome arising from this hugely disruptive incident and is a top priority for ERFA.

 

Peter Westenberger, Managing Director of NEE, warned against dismissing Rastatt too quickly. The draft of the handbook so far is a list of correct but incomplete proposals. It is still not clear, whether the national infrastructure managers really put this into practice or not. Important demands of the rail logistics sector are not included, particularly the cross-border coordination of construction work in the networks, compensation costs in case of diversions and the development and extension of parallel routes so that rail traffic can continue to run in the event of an accident or construction works. Every single day of standstill during the Rastatt incident caused damages of around 40 million euros throughout Europe. Therefore, it must be clear that a comparable incident as Rastatt shall never happen again!

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Page update: 23.04.2018

 

 

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