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Conference on "Sidings & Last Miles"

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Sidings and last miles are indispensable for the success of rail freight traffic. More than half of the rail freight traffic in many European countries originates at private sidings. Comparable to road they can provide door-to-door services and are desperately needed for a working circulation of wagon load traffic (single wagons) and block trains. Nevertheless the significant decrease in private sidings for rail transport in the last years has given road transport a competitive advantage over rail.

Contrary to road, companies which want to transport their goods directly by rail via a siding have to bear the total infrastructural costs themselves. They have not only to make important investments but bear the development risks as well. It is therefore a fundamental political demand that these access barriers must be diminished by funding programmes for private sidings.

It is true that rail infrastructure is expensive but some few national grant programmes (Germany, Austria and Switzerland) have nevertheless proved to be very cost-effective by using relatively modest means.

Unfortunately, no initiatives on the European level have tried to change the generally unsatisfactory situation of private sidings until now. Whilst the principal corridors in the EU are attracting the main attention, infrastructure start points (sidings) and end points (last miles) tend to be forgotten and neglected politically as none of the established European players, including the EU, seems to feel responsible.