The European association of abnormal road transport and mobile cranes – ESTA – has expressed concern at new rules and conditions imposed by Germany’s rail operator Deutsche Bahn (DB) on heavy transports when they cross or work near railways lines.

Bolk-Transport-ESTA Winner


The conditions are contained in a so-called framework document published by DB’s newly created infrastructure arm DB InfraGO, which was launched in January to delivery a major investment in railway infrastructure and increase DB’s share of the country’s freight market.

Two particular areas of concern for ESTA are the language requirements of transport operators and the long lead times DB said it will need before approving a transport.

The document states that a knowledge of written and spoken German is necessary for the communication required to cross a level crossing and that no persons may be on the vehicle or on the load outside the driver’s cab when travelling over level crossings.

For transports that do not require operating and construction instructions from DB, the minimum processing time from receipt of the application will usually be at least 10 working days. But if structural or other measures at a level crossing are necessary – for example an overhead line shutdown – then at least 10 weeks should be allowed.

ESTA director Ton Klijn said: “Of course we welcome the plans to boost infrastructure investment, but the likely time required to obtain approval for a transport is simply too long and the new language requirements are unnecessary and impractical. If every national organisation took the same approach, the driver of a load from – say – Spain to Poland would need to speak at least four languages.

“We will be talking both to the German authorities and our contacts in Brussels to see if we can persuade DB to amend these conditions as soon as possible.”

DB’s document states that it is aimed at road traffic authorities, transport companies, transport managers and DB InfraGO’s own staff. It is intended to support the road traffic authorities and transport companies in deciding whether a transport is subject to consultation with DB InfraGO.

It states that if the following dimensions and limit values are exceeded by large-capacity and/or heavy transport, a consultation with DB InfraGO is always required:
Length: 25 m
Width: 3.5 m
Height: 4.5 m
Axle load: 12 tonnes.

It said there is no need to consult DB InfraGO if all of the above dimensions and limit values are adhered to or DB InfraGO AG’s railway infrastructure is not used. DB added that applications from transport companies must generally be submitted via the VEMAGS online portal and also sets out financial responsibilities and likely costs.