On August 12th, the railway line between Karlsruhe and Baden-Baden became blocked due to a ground slip at the construction site of a new tunnel being constructed in Rastatt. Because the damage is so substantial, the initial deadline for track repairs of late-August had initially been extended well into September by DB Netze. Now, the infrastructure manager even mentions October.
The consequences of the line being blocked are enormous for the rail sector and the international rail freight sector in particular. Being part of the Rhine-Alpine Corridor, the line handles nearly 200 freight trains every day, mainly operating to and from Italy. Complete supply chains have been disrupted and terminals as far as the Port of Rotterdam even refused to accept containers that would travel by rail on this hinterland connection for a while.
Meanwhile shipping are looking at other solutions such as road transport and inland shipping, whilst the rail freight sector has been suffering financial damage, estimated at several million euros per day, and possibly considerable reputation damage. Rail freight operators are actively trying to mitigate the negative effects together with DB Netze, diverting their trains to other routes. However, in many cases, they are met with longer transit times, train length restrictions and additional (traction) costs. One of the operator's hit by the disruption is SBB Cargo International, a large player on this Rhine-Alpine Corridor. It has hired Vectron DE locomotive 247 908 from Siemens to be able to operate its trains over non-electrified lines.