1. What is Germany doing to shift more freight operations from road to rail?
Germany is the world logistics champion. Its central geographical position in Europe and its high-quality logistics services create ideal conditions for foreign shippers to successfully tap into European markets.
Forecasts predict a considerable increase in freight traffic. According to the current traffic forecast, freight traffic will increase by 38 percent by 2030 against 2010 levels – an increase that our roads and motorways alone will not be able to cope with. All modes of transport are needed for this and every mode of transport has to use its inherent advantages in an optimum manner. Therefore, it is the objective of the Federal Government to better interlink the individual modes of transport and to shift more traffic to the rail and waterway modes. To this end, shippers and haulage contractors will initially need access to both modes of transport. For this purpose, private sidings and combined transport terminals are considered relevant.
Whether shifting the transport of goods to rail is successful depends on the existing infrastructure, economically successful railway undertakings with innovative products and the cost ceiling that applies to taxes, levies etc. Furthermore, general trends of the business location such as the goods to be transported have an influence on rail freight transport.
To promote rail freight, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure has developed the Rail Freight Masterplan together with the rail transport sector. This Masterplan contains ten fields of action with a total of 66 individual measures and five measures for immediate action to strengthen rail freight and create better conditions for shifting more freight traffic to rail. One immediate measure is to reduce track access charges in rail freight by providing additional federal funds of 350 million euro per year over a period of five years. This measure was launched on 1 July 2018 through funding guidelines notified to the European Commission. Another measure to promote single wagonload traffic as an alternative to road-based freight transport will begin next year, namely to fund the charges imposed within service facilities. Both measures are to contribute to minimising the cost disadvantage for rail transport vis-à-vis road transport.
Another measure for immediate action is the Federal Government Programme on the Future of Rail Freight. Its objective is to increase the economic efficiency and logistics capabilities of rail freight by supporting innovations, in particular in the field of digital transformation, so as to be able to move more freight by rail in the long run, thereby relieving the burden on the road infrastructure as well as tackling environmental pollution and climate change. This is to help railway undertakings to further develop their products used for transporting goods by rail in such a way that they are attractive to clients.
A long-term measure is the construction of new, and upgrading of existing, railway infrastructure to remove bottlenecks along railway lines (for instance, the Ruhr-Sieg line) and at major rail hubs such as Cologne, Frankfurt (Main) and Hannover. It is equally important to renew the existing railway network. For this purpose, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure is providing appropriate funds: with the service level and funding agreement for the network of DB AG and Long-Distance Rail Freight Network Funding Act for networks and lines of non-federally owned railways. Another project that has been launched is the upgrading of the rail network to accommodate longer trains so as to be able to increase the maximum possible length of freight trains from 700 to 740 metres. In addition, the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure is promoting the construction of new, and the upgrading or reactivation of existing, private company sidings.
2. What measures are being taken to promote the broadband roll-out in Germany?
The Federal Government has set itself the objective of making high-capacity broadband coverage possible nationwide. Here, the Federal Government’s efforts are particularly focused on laying fibre optic networks to enable gigabit capable connections providing universal coverage by 2025.
In areas in which no commercial roll-out is taking place, it is possible to apply for financial assistance via a local authority, a district or a joint authority. This financial assistance to support the broadband roll-out in the Federal Republic of Germany will be provided from the federal funding programme for the roll-out of high-speed networks providing universal coverage.
In providing funding, priority is to be given to projects from areas where a private sector roll-out is not economical due to particular difficulties.
High-speed broadband is vital for businesses and public institutions and is a major factor influencing the competitiveness of Germany in the global economy. Thus, the provision of broadband and mobile communications infrastructure is a prerequisite for political, social and economic inclusion in all spheres of life. The governing coalition has acknowledged this at federal level and incorporated a legal entitlement to high-speed internet in the coalition agreement.
3. Is Germany promoting the installation of private electric vehicle charging points as well?
Yes. From 24 November 2020, funding applications for private charging stations can be submitted to the KfW (Development Loan Corporation).
Funding will be provided for the purchase and the installation of a brand-new charging station that is not accessible to the public, including the electrical connection to the grid, as well as the related necessary work at parking spaces in existing residential buildings in Germany if – among other things – the charging station has a standard charging capacity of 11 kW, electricity is 100% produced from renewable energy sources and the charging station is smart and can be controlled, with regard to grid support.