CZ/SK verze

The Impact of Ending Single Railcar Consignments on Germany's Roads: A Heavy Load Ahead

The Impact of Ending Single Railcar Consignments on Germany's Roads: A Heavy Load Ahead
photo: DB CARGO / Public domain/Single wagon loads
18 / 01 / 2024

In Poland, Spain, the UK, and Norway, single railcar consignments have been completely abolished. In contrast, other European and nearby countries have seen many successes with this system.


In Germany, single railcar consignments account for about a quarter of all rail freight. The country approved a support scheme until 2025 in 2020. However, DB CARGO still failed to make a profit and recorded a loss of EUR 858 million in 2022, with EUR 442 million attributed to single railcar consignments.

Unions are requesting EUR 300 million in aid for these consignments. Politicians, however, are considering only a third of this amount. If single railcar consignments were to end, it could result in an additional 40,000 trucks on German roads daily. This increase would lead to more congestion on secondary roads and motorways, more accidents, and increased air pollution.

Czech Republic

The Czech Republic annually transports 800 thousand trucks via single railcar consignments. Since 2016, the infrastructure manager has offered discounts for transport journeys and a refund of the renewable energy fee. Considering the success in the Czech Republic, it raises the question of why similar measures can't be adopted elsewhere.

RCG / Public domain


France also receives state support for single railcar consignments, amounting to EUR 70 million per year until 2025. This amount is expected to increase by an additional EUR 30 million starting this year.


In Switzerland, single railcar consignments have declined. SBB CARGO now operates only the main routes, and regional routes have been reduced. The Swiss aim to keep goods on trains to avoid adding approximately 600 thousand trucks annually on the roads. Commodities like bottles, beer, Swiss knives, paper, mail, cereals, salt, cement, and scrap metal are transported using single railcar consignments. Political opinions in Switzerland are divided, with two proposals currently under consideration: one supporting single railcar consignments and the other potentially ending them.


Hungary benefits from a state scheme approved by the European Union. This move has resulted in 400 thousand fewer trucks on the roads each year and an increase of 7.2 million tonnes of freight on the rails. In other words, there are 45 fewer trucks every hour throughout the year. Hungary has received state support from 2022 to 2025, totaling 26 billion forints (approximately EUR 69 million).


Lastly, Austria actively supports single railcar consignments. Recognizing their sensitivity to market fluctuations, Austria regularly recalculates its support scheme. Carriers receive support based on the quantity of goods transported and also benefit from reduced road charges. Some regional authorities have implemented their own support schemes, resulting in a combination of several initiatives.