Chems players monitor German rail section closure

16 August 2017 13:17 Source:ICIS News

Focus article by Heidi Finch

he German rail route between Karlsruhe and Basel and between Rastatt and Baden-Baden, Germany, has been closed because of subsidence that occurred during construction work at the New Rastatter Tunnel according to rail operator Deutsche Bahn.

Deutsche Bahn said that this incident and the resulting route closure occurred on Saturday 12 August with and that the process of stabilising the tunnel is currently underway.

The issue
 is likely to last until 26 August, the company said, and a replacement timetable is in place from 14 August to cover this period, leading some chemicals industry players to pause price discussions to monitor the progress of the work.

The passengers affected are those travelling between Switzerland via Basel or to towns in the Upper Rhine such as Freiburg and Offenburg and Frankfurt and West and North Germany.

Deutsche Bahn carried out a first inspection of the damage over the weekend, and has workers on this section carrying out the remedial maintenance, the company said.  The residents in the vicinity were asked to leave their houses for safety reasons in order to start the repairs as quickly possible.

The main priority is to restart the passenger travel, said the German rail company, who said it is working with construction companies, and authorised experts and surveyors to stabilise the tunnel in Rastatt. Afterwards, this section will be extensively repaired.

The company is also working on replacement transport plans for goods, and estimates that who estimates that during peak times, there are up to 200 goods trains on the route between Karlsruhe and Basel. However, the amount of goods rail traffic has been significantly reduced at the moment for seasonal reasons, it added.

The German rail company talks of bypassing this area or shifting to other modes of transport such as truck or barge. In total, the German rail company said it can provide customers with 200 diversion routes and it is working on investigating the postponing of any maintenance work in order to free up some capacity for the diverted trains.

Views on the immediate  effect of this rail disruption on chemical markets were filtering through, with one caprolactum and nylon buyer saying it has stopped its price discussions, in order to monitor the effects of the rail disruption.

A few ethanolamines traders said that they either weren’t affected because they transport their product by road and not rail, and one said it was informed by its logistics provider that it may experience some delays, but that it would receive its product.  

The same trader said that it expects that the impact of this rail disruption may be mitigated by the quieter summer holiday period, although it said this will all depend on how long the closure on this part of the rail route will last.

Subcontractors are being affected by this rail disruption and containers are greatly limited in weeks 33 and 34, as mentioned by a release from Switzerland-based transport company Kuehne + Nagel.

It went on to say it is checking for any alternative transport options, but nevertheless, it expects limitations and delays.

Additional reporting by Ciaran Tyler.

By Heidi Finch