Main line between Czech Republic and Germany to become single track for three years

A CD Cargo freight train waiting in Bad Schandau. Photo: Jan Sůra / Zdopravy.czA CD Cargo freight train waiting in Bad Schandau. Photo: Jan Sůra /

Freight carriers want to negotiate with Saxon authorities to replace passenger stop trains with alternative bus or boat transport or long-distance EC trains to free up capacity for more freight trains.

Traffic on the busiest line between the Czech Republic and Germany will be subject to major restrictions from June. The German rail infrastructure manager DB Netze will start repairing the section of the line between the state border and Bad Schandau and the corridor line will become a single track for three years. The restrictions will mainly affect rail freight operators, who will have to divert some of their freight to other lines. The situation shows how the Czech Republic and Germany lack another high capacity rail border crossing.

The situation is already complicated by the closure in Decin and works on the German side. From June 26, there will be a continuous restriction to one track in the Decin Prostredni Zleb – Bad Schandau section until December. In addition, traffic will stop completely for several hours every Monday. This means a significant reduction in capacity.

The work on this section, and subsequently on other sections of the line in the Elbe valley, is to continue until 2026 with closures of one track and additional closures of the second track for several hours on certain days. Traffic will be further restricted by repairs of the bridge over the Elbe in Dresden.

Carriers: cargo will move to the road

Freight carriers do not have many options to get goods between the Czech Republic and Germany by rail. All other crossings are on non-electrified single-track lines of inferior parameters, and significantly extend the transport distance with the resulting impact in loss of competitiveness against road transport. According to Ž, this is likely to lead to a long-term transfer of transport from rail to the D8–A17–A14/A13 motorways, including the transport of dangerous goods – chemical and petroleum products.

At a conference of the association of railway freight carriers Ž last week, its representatives called on Minister of Transport Martin Kupka to negotiate with his Saxon counterpart on possible restrictions on suburban passenger transport, which is not expecting cuts. Moreover, the restrictions come at a time when it is being decided how to get Ukrainian grain to German ports by rail.

According to Tomáš Tyll of VKS Legal, there is a legal instrument (EC Delegated Decision 2017/2075) to prioritize no-alternative freight transport over passenger transport in exceptional cases of heavy closures. The latter can be transferred to an alternative bus service, in this case also ship transport.

The line experienced similar problems last summer when it was flooded. An alternative high capacity rail crossing to Germany will not be built until 2030 at the earliest on the line from Plzen to Regensburg.


Edited and translated by Lucie Trávníčková.



Tagy DB Netze Decin - Bad Schandau rail freight transport restrictions Ž
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