Germany and the Netherlands join forces in rail freight policies

State secretaries Ferlemann and Van Veldhoven have agreed to join forces and further intensify cooperation on boosting rail freight. Based on the rail freight masterplans in each country, administrations and industry will develop concrete measures to make rail freight operations more attractive for logistics and more efficient. In a Letter of Intent, the State secretaries, together with business partners, established a bilateral working group that will work on operations resilience / enhanced efficiency of network utilization, digitalization and automation, interoperability and harmonisation, multimodality as well as financing and cooperation at cross-national and EU level. Both countries already cooperate closely in the EU context and in the context of the cooperation on developing (cross-border) infrastructure.

In both countries, an ambitious masterplan was drafted in order to improve the competitive position of the railways in freight transport. Rail freight helps to diminish the pressure of road haulage on the motorways and to reduce exhausts detrimental to the climate Mrs. Van Veldhoven stated.

Federal Government Commissioner for Rail Transport Enak Ferlemann said:

Our aim is to ensure efficient international rail freight. The Netherlands and Germany both have important national rail freight sectors and want to significantly increase the role of rail in transport. We are happy that the cooperation at cross-national level will now be extended to cover cross-border initiatives that go beyond the work in EU-corridors and infrastructure development. We strongly welcome the broad participation of the industry, including the production and logistics sector. They are the ‘customers’ of rail freight. They need ideal conditions, and we are joining forces to ensure such conditions.

The business communities in both countries fully endorse the initiative. That is why they also put their signatures under the Letter of Intent. They are highly committed to working together across borders to improve the business proposals in rail freight. Shippers, too, are committed to using rail freight to meet their logistics needs – not only to protect the climate, but also as part of their societal responsibilities. The working group will convene before summer in The Hague in order to set the measures in motion. The progress will be discussed with both state secretaries on an annual basis.

In the Letter of Intent, the following actions are identified:

  1. Development of rail freight based on technological innovations e.g. with a cross-border test bed for automated train operations, the use of the digital automated coupling system, standardized automated freight train operations in terminals or on industrial networks and automated brake testing.
  2. Joint expert group on funding of rolling stock investment with a view to i.e. an EU scheme for facilitating investment in ERTMS OBU’s and other data interfaces as well as the migration of digital automated coupling with a view to a possible extension to other EU Member States and with the aim of conceiving an EU funding scheme facilitating these investments.
  3. Accelerate the introduction of 740 m trains on cross-border routes by exploiting interoperable digitalised planning tools, streamlining operational procedures and benefiting from infrastructure developments in cooperation with the existing infrastructure working group. The infrastructure managers will continue to ensure freight traffic operations on all available cross border routes linking origins to destinations as well as common network resilience management (contingency in terms of quality and quantity of train paths and scheduled adequate sidings capacity). In doing so, special attention will be paid to ensuring train operations during construction works (ABS46/2).
  4. Contingency management in case of serious disturbances in the logistics chain including the occurrence of extreme water levels on the Rhine.


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