Germany's roads, especially the autobahns, are becoming increasingly crowded. Freight traffic has been increasing sharply for years, not least due to the free movement of goods within the European Union. Frequent drivers are the first to feel it; average travel speeds are dropping, even though Germany is the only country that does not have a general speed limit. Slow-moving traffic and traffic jams have become the norm. Even taking into account all the traffic announcements on the radio, any travel planning becomes a gamble. Flowing traffic is too sensitive to disruptions such as construction sites or accidents. The results of such disruptions can be seen everywhere in the form of standing or creeping columns of cars, always with a more or less closed row of trucks in the right lane. The question immediately arises in everyone's mind at such a sight:
'Why are these goods not increasingly transported by rail'?
Development and perspective
As an example, let us first look at the development in Germany, where the share of rail transport in total traffic has gone through various phases:
- After 1950, there was a continuous decline due to the expansion of the road network, including highways, and the increased use of long-distance trucking by freight forwarders, who were originally only active in feeder traffic to the railroad.
- In the early 1990s, after German reunification and European liberalization, intensification of the decline.
- From 2000, consolidation and slight increase thanks to the rail reforms from 1994 onwards; as a result, revival of intermodal competition following access opportunities for new rail carriers, supported by the introduction of truck tolls in Germany and other countries from 2005 onwards.
- Since 2008, the share of SGV has stagnated at around 17% of total freight transport performance in Germany. The share of rail in the Alpine countries of Switzerland and Austria, which is more than twice as high today after a similar development, is strongly supported by transalpine traffic.
Now the discussion continues about how an increase in the share of rail transport can actually be achieved according to the time-honored motto "goods belong on the railroads". How can something succeed in the future that has been demanded for several decades but has not yet been achieved? Or to put it even more dramatically: Why should a situation that already existed once - namely the handling of almost all long-distance freight traffic by rail - be restored when the opposite has occurred in the meantime?
From the end customer's point of view, the purely rail-bound transport of goods can neither be realized 'just in time' nor 'end-to-end' with the available production concepts. For this, at least the 'first and last mile' are usually missing.