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Germany to provide energy essentials priority by rail if Rhine disruption worsens

An aerial view shows coal at a dry bulk terminal of German Rheinberg-Orsoy harbor along Europes most significant shipping way Rhine in Rheinberg near Duisburg, Germany, April 6, 2022. Picture taken with a drone. REUTERS/Stephane Nitschke/File Photo

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BERLIN, Aug 14 (Reuters) – Germany plans to provide the transportation of materials and equipment needed for energy production priority on the country’s rail networks should water levels on the Rhine fall further and hamper shipping by river, a draft decree shows.

DB Netz, the rail network arm of railway operator Deutsche Bahn (DBN.UL), has recently rejigged usage conditions to provide preference to trains carrying mineral oil products and hard coal for power generators as Germany tackles a power crisis.

“The goal is to ensure the ongoing operations of power stations, refineries, electricity grids along with other system-relevant infrastructure,” said the draft used by the transport and economy ministries and seen by Reuters.

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In addition, it described gas and transformer equipment for power production and transmission to get priority over passenger services along with other industrial requirements.

Germany’s government cabinet must approve the provisional legislation that might be limited to half a year, the draft said.

Water levels on the Rhine are low due to unusually hot and dry weather, rendering it impossible for most vessels to navigate the critical shipping route fully laden. read more

It has coincided with a shortage of gas for power stations, heating and industrial processes because of reduced Russian exports has resulted in temporary switches by operators back again to more coal and oil usage. read more

“We are in need of extraordinary measures to make sure supply security,” economy minister Robert Habeck in a statement.

A significant reference waterline level at the chokepoint of Kaub near Koblenz stood at 34 centimetres at midday (1000 GMT) on Sunday, 3 cm less than once on Saturday.

Kaub hit 25 cm at one point in 2018.

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Reporting by Andreas Rinke and Vera Eckert; Editing by Alexander Smith

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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