Rising surcharges may make planning intermodal transport more difficult
Charges for train cancellations, stopovers and quality penalties have a similar impact on the competitiveness of transport as infrastructure access charges. The European Rail Freight Association (ERFA) and several carriers warn against excessive increases in surcharges.
In recent months, several European infrastructure managers have announced plans to increase surcharge rates paid by freight operators. The German manager DB Netz plans to increase train cancellation fees next year from 0.05 per train-km to 0.30 per pc-km. The Dutch manager ProRail is raising fees for train parking. In turn, the Italian RFI administrator introduces quality penalties at border stations.
ERFA points out that such large increases in surcharges may reduce the flexibility of freight transport and lead to a situation where carriers will order timetables only as part of short-term bookings, which will make it difficult for managers to plan routes during renovations. This will complicate an already complicated situation, especially in Germany. In a separate appeal signed by Metrans, Rail Caago Group, SBB Cargo, Lineas, CFL Cargo and CLS Cargo, it was pointed out that DB Netz is raising fees for canceling trains in the situation where many renovation works are carried out on the railway lines, necessitating the sending of trains detours and the use of diesel locomotives instead of electric ones. In addition, some trains are canceled because the volumes of goods transported from ports have decreased.
“Especially in the current economic environment and given the supply chain disruptions we are experiencing – especially continental and maritime traffic – it is clear that not everything jointly planned with our customers in April will be transported this year. Volumes, and therefore frequencies, change. Our customers’ supply markets and destinations, and therefore transport routes, are subject to change. In all these cases, we will be subject to the penalty cancellation fees described above.
At the same time, ERFA points to a lack of reciprocity. DB Netz raises fees for train cancellations several times, and at the same time does not provide for any compensation for carriers for route cancellations due to track closures, which are now very numerous due to numerous repairs.
— Modal shift is not only the responsibility of railway undertakings, but also infrastructure managers and policy makers. We fail to see how increasing cancellation fees under the current conditions, without any reciprocity, will have a positive impact on the European Union’s modal shift objectives. A change of approach is needed, commented Dirk Stahl, President of the ERFA.