The new transportation paradigm needs VTG and rail freight!

Significantly more goods must be transported by rail going forward, above all in the interests of mitigating climate change. This goal, however, can be achieved only with the full and active support of all stakeholders in the rail freight space – first and foremost the political echelons. If rail freight is to become more competitive, the first imperative is to balance out the many existing burdens that have put rail at a disadvantage compared to road haulage in recent decades.

Rail freight traffic plays a crucial part in meeting climate change mitigation targets. In April 2021, Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court ruled that the government must set more ambitious climate targets in order to protect the rights and freedoms of future generations. The Climate Protection Act passed in 2019, it argued, was not enough as it only set goals for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions through 2030.

In response, federal government ratified an updated version of the Climate Protection Act in 2021. Its goal? To achieve climate neutrality by 2045.

19 g

of CO2 is roughly what rail freight traffic generates per ton and kilometer – nearly 82 percent less than a truck does (103 g/ton-km).

Source: VDV (Association of German Transport Companies)

26 %

has been shaved off CO2 emissions in rail freight traffic since 2000, while energy consumption (kWh/ton-km) has fallen by 29 percent in the same period – despite increasing transportation volumes.

Source: VDV (Association of German Transport Companies)

0,4 %

was rail freight’s share of the greenhouse gas emissions generated by the transport sector in the EU-27 in 2018. Road traffic accounted for 71.8 percent.

Source: Statistical Pocketbook 2020

40 %

of the energy needed to move a hydrogen container by road is all that rail needs to do the same job.

Source: IEA

76 euros

is the amount invested per capita in Germany’s rail infrastructure in 2019 – compared to 404 euros in Switzerland.

Source: Allianz pro Schiene, statista

6 km

is the amount by which German railways were extended in 2019. By comparison, 183 kilometers of freeways and highways were added, while 50 kilometers of roads were widened.

Source: Federal government’s response to a question by the parliamentary Green Party in May 2020

33.000 km

is the total extent of Deutsche Bahn’s rail network in 2018. The USA operates the world’s most extensive railroad network: 293,600 km (2014).

Source: statista

19 %

of all goods transportation activities in Germany in 2019 are accounted for by rail, against a 71 percent share for road haulage.

Source: statista

77.000 trucks

are replaced by rail freight traffic every working day.

Source: VDV (Association of German Transport Companies)

600 million

tons of goods are carried by rail in Germany every year.

Source: VDV


new sidings for companies has been recorded by the federal government in the past eleven years.

Source: Inquiry from the Greens parliamentary group, editorial network Germany (June 2021)


active railway sidings in total were in service at the end of 2020, according to the German government.

Source: Question by the parliamentary Green Party; Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (June 2021)

80 %

of all sidings have been abandoned since the railway reform in 1994.

Source: Question by the parliamentary Green Party; Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (June 2021)

132.6 billion

ton-kilometers constituted total rail freight performance in Germany in 2019.

Source: statista

5.7 billion

euros were turned over by rail freight traffic in Germany in 2018. From 2021 through 2023, average annual turnover in the global rail network should be around 125 billion euros.

Source: statista

64.000 wagons

VTG’s entire European wagon fleet – are currently being equipped for digital connectivity.

8.88 cents

per kWh was the sum total of energy taxes, levies and fees charged for rail freight traffic in 2020. The corresponding figure for (diesel) trucks was 4.70 cents.

Source: Pro Rail Alliance, drawing on materials from Agora Energiewende (an energy transition think tank), Agora Verkehrswende (a transportation transition think tank), the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA), DB Energie and

European year of rail 2021

Since rail traffic will play a key role in the EU’s efforts to be completely climate-neutral by 2050, the EU has declared 2021 to be the European Year of Rail. Throughout the year, rail has been promoted as a safe, innovative and environmentally friendly mode of transport that can maintain secure supply lines even in times of crisis.

“Rail transport is the answer to many important questions in the field of mobility – especially questions relating to climate neutrality, energy efficiency, crisis resilience and safety. The aim of the European Year of Rail is to inject stimulus into this sector and encourage more tourists, businesspeople and producers to choose rail.“

Andreas Scheuer, Germany’s Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, President of the EU Council from July through December 2020