Hindenburgdamm: railroad and rdc fight for sylt connection

Railroad fights with americans over lucrative sylt shuttle

Ulrich Exner

A car train travels over the Hindenburgdamm in the direction of Sylt

A car train travels over the Hindenburgdamm in the direction of Sylt

A few gloomy clouds were gathering off the island of sylt. The wind freshened up, a few squalls were forecast, rain too. Not a very good outlook for this second weekend in december. advent, the weeks before christmas are pretty much the quietest time up here on germany’s most popular vacation island anyway. And in this respect, what has been happening between niebull on the mainland and westerland on the island of sylt since sunday seems rather bizarre.

In the middle of the off-season, starting at five in the morning with a departure from westerland, and at five in the morning with a departure from niebull.05 a.m. with one departure from niebull, the sylt shuttle operated by bahn AG doubles the number of its departures at a stroke. From six o’clock in the morning until eight o’clock in the evening, there is a train every half hour in each direction. Instead of 14.000 times the company wants to run its car trains more than 20 in the future.000-times rolling over the hindenburg dam. Completely independent of whether the wagons are full, half empty or, as can be assumed, sometimes empty, commuting between niebull and westerland. Regardless of whether this measure benefits or harms holidaymakers and local residents. This is the least important thing at the moment.

Hindenburgdamm: railroad and RDC fight for sylt connection

The offensive launched by Deutsche Bahn with the timetable change on Sunday is in fact the latest, and probably most expensive, move in a battle for the lucrative 39-kilometer rail route between niebull and westerland, which is being waged according to all the rules and through all the loopholes of competition law. experts estimate that the railroad’s "syltshuttle" will bring in 30 million euros in profits every year. A sum that the private U.S. railway development company (RDC) has been very interested in for a good year now.

"pure chaos" could break out

the americans also want to transport cars from niebull to westerland in the future; they have various court rulings behind them that break the railroad’s monopoly in this segment as well, and they are enticing customers with a cheaper fare. One would even like to take over the whole business. But first of all, RDC, the challenger, is a tiny train that has so far only been on the route between hamburg and cologne in germany. Kreisklasse against bundesliga so. And all this away from home.

With the 'Autozug Sylt', the US company RDC wants to compete with the railroads

tracks and loading ramps are owned by a subsidiary of the bahn, which doesn’t make things any easier. The legal tangle that has turned the former monopolist bundesbahn into the competitors DB fernverkehr and DB syltshuttle and DB netz and DB wasweibich also leaves a whole series of gaps that make the former goal of this reform, namely to enable competition on the railways as well, a torture that is difficult to understand.

For example, although DB netz has dutifully granted the competitor some "paths", i.e. the possibility to travel from niebull to westerland and back at a certain point in time. This does not mean, however, that the RDC then also has loading capacities available in the loading ramps managed by DB fernverkehr. awkward maneuvers that also hinder other traffic could be the result.

The question of whether the handling facilities at the stations in niebull and westerland will be sufficient for the soaring number of arrivals and departures also remains unanswered. When, probably from february, to the 20.000 rail connections also 4000 RDC departures are still to come, therefore not only the local politicians in westerland and niebull fear "pure chaos" at the tracks. It is also feared that around the train stations the barriers will be closed much more frequently.

Users of local trains would be the ones to suffer

the state of schleswig-holstein is now considerably concerned about the accessibility of its most important tourist location. In a letter to the heads of the railroads, the RDC and the federal network agency as the supervisory authority, the keel transport state secretary frank nagele (SPD) warns that "the island of sylt could be temporarily shut down de facto" due to unresolved conflicts in rail traffic.

At the latest when, in addition to the syltshuttle, the car trains of the RDC also roll over the hindenburgdamm, there will be "untenable traffic conditions between niebull and westerland" due to the large number of train movements. Those who would suffer would be the users of the local trains, also due to the complicated procurement law in rail transport.

These are currently operated by a third company, nord-ostsee-bahn, which in turn receives millions from the state of schleswig-holstein. As of 2017, however, this money will go to DB regio, which won the recent tender for the line to westerland. the influence of the railroad on the hindenburg dam will continue to grow.

The RDC does not want to be beaten in what it sees as a "David vs. goliath" battle. Not from the competitor’s timetable offensive. "we will definitely be driving," announces european boss hans leister almost defiantly. The blue-painted wagons are expected to roll towards sylt for the first time in february. He has his sights firmly set on the goal of this trip: to really outrun bahn AG one day on the hindenburg dam.

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Christina Cherry
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