10. March 2016

Innovation subsidy “a breakthrough for the procurement of quieter wagons”

Rail freight transport: associations support federal government

Making trains quieter with ‘whisper brakes’: minister Dobrindt watches how it’s done.

The German Federal Ministry for Transport and Digital Infrastructure has said that it is introducing an innovation subsidy for quieter freight wagons. With its measure, the federal government is boosting future investments in new freight wagons that are quieter than European noise protection standards. The associations VDB, VPI and the German Pro-Rail Alliance are supporting the innovation subsidy as a political breakthrough for the procurement of quieter freight wagons. The measure, announced yesterday by the German federal transport minister Alexander Dobrindt, is part of the ‘Low-Noise Railways’ strategy and aims to strengthen public acceptance of environmentally friendly rail freight transport as well as complementing the government’s current programme for retrofitting existing rail freight wagons.


Berlin, March 10, 2016. “Rail freight transport must become quieter,”explained Volker Schenk, president of the German railway supply industry VDB. “The innovation subsidy will make a decisive contribution because, for the first time, there is now an incentive for the owners of freight wagons to invest in new and quieter wagons, replacing noisy rolling stock, which will be scrapped. The innovation subsidy is a breakthrough for the procurement of quieter wagons. The rail supply industry and the rail sector have been arguing for this for some time because it will mean that low-noise technology can finally be introduced. Politicians and businesses must now work together to get the innovation subsidy up and running as soon as possible.

“We emphatically welcome replacing older wagons with new rolling stock with the support of the innovation subsidy,” said Jürgen Tuscher, managing director of German Association of Private Freight Wagon Owners VPI. “To date, only retrofitting measures have been subsidised. However, of the 60,000 wagons that will be in use in 2020, VPI member companies are buying 40,000 new wagons. A modern freight wagon costs between 80,000 and 100,000 euros, which adds up to total investment costs for private owners of around 4 billion euros. Of course, these investments will be made in order to ensure that the rolling stock remains attractive. But making investments is also a question of timing and it is clear that for reasons of noise protection, the innovation subsidy will mean that these investments are brought forward.”

The Pro-Rail Alliance praised the ministry’s initiative, “that subsidies will only be paid if noise emissions from new freight wagons are lower than the limits stipulated by current legislation.” Dirk Flege, managing director of the Pro-Rail Alliance, appeared confident that “the innovation subsidy will be an additional boost in the process of upgrading rolling stock”.

The federal government wants to halve rail freight’s noise levels by 2020. There is a raft of measures contained in the ‘Low-Noise Railways’ strategy, including subsidising innovative, low-noise wagons; testing new noise-protection technologies positioned near the tracks; the new innovation subsidy for particularly quiet goods wagons; and the retrofitting of low-noise composite brake blocks. The Federal Transport Ministry is also planning to tighten legislation, which will see noisy freight wagons being banned from operations in Germany from 2020.


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