FRANKFURT (Reuters) - The closure of a busy rail line in southern Germany due to a construction project is creating supply shortages and boosting transport costs for Germany’s vast chemicals industry, a trade body said on Friday.
Major chemical sites of companies including BASF, Evonik, Covestro, Lanxess and British-owned Ineos are linked up to the rail line further north of the construction site, which is near the city of Karlsruhe.
“There is already now a bottleneck of specialty equipment like tank containers and cooling trucks,” Andrea Heid, in charge of transport issues at industry association VCI, said in a statement.
On Aug. 12, the ground sagged above part of a new tunnel that government-owned rail firm Deutsche Bahn was drilling in Rastatt, south of Karlsruhe, causing the track to subside and forcing the operator to close the line for major repair work.
The chemical industry lobby called on Deutsche Bahn to better prepare for line closures to prevent chemical groups from permanently moving shipments to other modes of transport.
In response, Deutsche Bahn said it was working with counterparts in Switzerland, France and Austria to put on additional trains and drivers on alternative routes via France and Austria. It said it was also considering adding a shuttle service for goods trains between Kornwestheim, to the north of Stuttgart, and Zurich.
VCI said about half of raw material shipments to chemicals plants and the plants’ products to customers could be diverted via alternative rail routes, but the rest would have to be transported by truck or ship instead.
It did not quantify the volume of shipments affected.
Deutsche Bahn has said that Rhine Valley Railway line would remain closed until Oct. 7.
Other major foreign producers with sites in Germany, Europe’s largest chemical producing nation, are Dow Chemical, DuPont and LyondellBasell.
Reporting by Maria Sheahan and Ludwig Burger; Additional reporting by Victoria Bryan; Editing by Edmund Blair and Susan Fenton