Herr Staatssekretär Ferlemann, hochverehrter Herr Kollege, sehr geehrte Vertreter der deutschen und niederländischen Wirtschaft, die dieses Business-to-Government-Treffen zum Thema Schienengüterverkehr möglich gemacht haben.
Herzlichen Dank für den Empfang! Ich freue mich sehr, hier zu sein und mit Ihnen über die Zusammenarbeit im Schienengüterverkehr sprechen zu können.
Die Idee hierfür entstand im letzten Jahr aus der Überzeugung heraus, dass Deutschland und die Niederlande sich gegenseitig verstärken können. Deshalb bin ich froh, dass schon im ersten Jahr konkrete Schritte unternommen werden können. Ich freue mich darauf, unsere Zusammenarbeit weiter auszubauen.
Bitte gestatten Sie mir, nun auf Englisch fortzufahren.
Rail freight transport is, above all, international transport. More than 42,000 freight trains crossed the border between the Netherlands and Germany in 2018. And this number is set to grow.
The Dutch government is ambitious. We want to facilitate and encourage rail freight transport wherever we can.
Rail transport is an excellent alternative to transport by road, water or air. Good rail facilities give shippers more flexibility. And rail transport relieves congestion on the roads – a single train carries as much freight as 56 lorries. And produces 80 per cent fewer carbon emissions.
We need the railways in order to achieve our climate goals. Rail transport is essential. It’s cleaner than all other forms of freight transport.
Last year I took a new step forward with the railway sector. With the business community, I agreed a package of measures on rail freight transport – setting out ambitions for growth and measures to make rail transport more attractive.
We need the railways in order to achieve our climate goals.
These Dutch measures are in line with your policy here in Germany. Take, for example, our measure to reduce the infrastructure charge for a period of five years. Germany has taken similar steps.
We each influence part of the journey. So coordination is essential – also in terms of costs – given the impact on the competitiveness of international rail transport.
Generally speaking, our package of measures is closely related to the German Rail Freight Master Plan, drafted in 2017. And that plan presents many opportunities, now in particular.
The Dutch and German business communities are closely interlinked, since many companies are active in both countries. Germany and the Netherlands already work closely together in the field of rail transport.
Government authorities and infrastructure managers coordinate work on new infrastructure, including the third track between Emmerich and Oberhausen.
Our two countries also work closely together in the Rhine-Alpine and North Sea-Baltic rail freight corridors. The Leipzig declaration of 23 May 2018 on contingency management is a good example.
And we cooperate at European level – for example in implementing the 2016 Rotterdam Ministerial Declaration on ‘Rail freight corridors to boost international freight’.
Today I’m pleased to say we’ll be taking a new step by signing a Letter of Intent.
The Dutch and German business communities have agreed an action plan, and they’re going to work hard to deliver it.
They’ve given us a positive message. And I will gladly support their action plan, which addresses a whole range of issues.
I’m talking about language requirements for train drivers and requirements for the braking systems on freight trains. And I plan to work with ProRail to explore whether trains up to 740 metres long can be deployed between the Netherlands, Germany and further into the Rhine-Alpine Corridor.
I’d like to thank you for your hard work. I’m delighted with the progress we’ve made so far. Now let’s see if we can move forward. Rail freight transport has a great future – if we can clear international barriers.