Two years after the tunnel collapse near Rastatt

DB: Leading the next generation of rail freight (?) – Newcastle upon Thyne, August 2019.

Two years after the tunnel collapse near Rastatt – there are still no functioning diversionary routes available for the Rhine Valley Railway!

On 12 August 2019, the second anniversary of the tunnel collapse in Rastatt-Niederbühl, FDP Member of the Bundestag Christian Jung, who is rapporteur for his parliamentary group on freight transport and logistics and the Federal Transport Infrastructure Plan, made the following statement in Karlsruhe:

“It is extremely regrettable that, two years after the Rastatt-Niederbühl tunnel collapse in 2017, Deutsche Bahn and the Federal Government have not yet managed to make available – or at least plan – functioning diversionary routes for the Rhine Valley Railway between Mannheim and Basle, one of the most important European freight train and long-distance routes. Nothing has been done. The same applies regarding the railway logistics firms affected by the collapse, who have not yet been compensated.

In this context, the fact that construction of the two Rastatt railway tunnels is now to be finished by 2025, or that an “international handbook” for dealing with longer route closures has been written, is of little help in the absence of functioning and fully electrified diversionary routes via Stuttgart/Horb-Singen or Alsace. Deutsche Bahn does not feel responsible, as became clear at an event recently organised by the Mittlerer Oberrhein regional organisation. The whole approach is equivalent to rebuilding a house which has previously burnt down without installing structural fire-safety protection.  

Yet we need functioning diversionary routes every day, particularly for freight trains on the Rotterdam/Rhine-Ruhr-Mannheim-Basle-Lombardy/Genoa route, since route closures lasting hours or days are a regular occurrence here and the accumulated freight is then transported by heavy-goods vehicles on the motorways. Perhaps we actually need another longer route closure of the Rhine Valley Railway like that in 2017 to serve as a wake-up call especially to the responsible managers at Deutsche Bahn. A similar railway closure in France between Modane and Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne near the Italian border has just demonstrated the importance of dealing with this issue at European level if further freight capacities are to be shifted to the railways.”