The VDV and its important work as a railway partner

Posted: 5 April 2010 | | No comments yet

The Verband Deutscher Verkehrsunternehmen (Association of German Transport Companies (VDV)) with approximately 550 ordinary members and more than 50 extraordinary members is the established address for many institutions in politics and administration, trade and industry, research and training for questions of public transport and rail freight traffic in Germany. Thus, the association also includes 147 railway passenger transport companies and 202 rail freight companies among its members.

The association promotes the development of public transport and rail freight traffic with the aim of better customer orientation, profitability and sustainability. The VDV advocates the expansion of these kinds of traffic, which ensure environmentally-friendly and surfacefriendly mobility of people and goods as these kinds of traffic are vital for the functioning of densely populated areas and for the attractiveness of the regions.

The VDV advises its member companies, provides for exchange of experience among its members and prepares standardised, operational, legal, technical and economic principles with the objective of the best possible organisation of the operation. It organises and is involved in adjustment processes among transport companies and the transport associations or principals. The VDV represents the interests of the companies towards parliaments, authorities and other institutions and contributes to the forming of public opinion.

In the railway field, the results of the rail reform in Germany and the strong liberalisation Europe-wide determine our actions. The VDV has contributed much to these changes: corporate orientation, sustainable competitive conditions and quality standards which are good for our customers. The railway passenger transport companies, the rail freight companies and the rail infrastructure companies bundle their know-how to excellent specialist competence. In that way we can exert influence, fight, promote and last but not least, win.

The railway passenger transport is the backbone of public transport. Regional rail transport contributes considerably to the relief of traffic congestion in densely populated areas, the development of the region and also the relief of the environment. Rail reform and regionalisation have changed the relationship among the rail companies and with the contracting authorities strongly. Competition increases the pressure, but it also opens new scopes. To the passengers this means better offers in quantity and quality, which are rewarded by an increase in demand above average.

After the rail reform and the regionalisation, the passengers’ acceptance of the regional rail transport – and thus its popularity – rose significantly. This success is promoted by a market frame which allows the rail companies a certain development. For instance, innovative vehicle concepts and service offers convince both passengers and principals. The range of topics of railway passenger transport reflects the multifaceted demands of the rail companies and to the rail companies. The relevant topics – from the development of the regional rail transport market to rail infrastructure questions – are treated professionally and introduced forcefully to political discussion.

Meanwhile, the rail transport companies and the principals exchange experiences actively. They develop the competitive market together to ensure that the transport companies have got, on the one hand sufficient entrepreneurial space, and that the public principals can influence the development sufficiently on the other hand. The VDV has contributed vitally to this development in the last few years. The two market groups have met within the VDV, and the VDV puts forward their joint requirements towards politics and state administration.

Despite the financial and economic crisis, rail freight traffic is on the upswing structurally. Longer transport routes, increased productivity, improved logistical integration as well as cost development point to the rail. Rail freight companies offer economic, energy-efficient and safe solutions for the growing need of transport. As the transport association, the VDV aims at accentuating the potential of the rail freight companies. It does not only offer lobbying, but also access to ‘best practices’. The transport and infrastructure companies benefit from the VDV as a network for establishing contacts and improving their market opportunities.

Many rail companies in Germany are members of the VDV

As the professional and lobbying association of the rail transport mode, the VDV supports the development of rail freight traffic in order to improve the customer orientation, the cost effectiveness and the sustainability.

The association performs political and consultative tasks at national and international level. Besides the preparation and provision of important specialist bases for the transport sector, the representation of interests toward partners in trade and industry, politics and administration are prioritised.

There are especially big challenges within the railway infrastructure and the interoperability at the European level. If these challenges are mastered successfully, further market potentials will be available to the rail freight companies. Therefore, the VDV has involved itself deeply in these fields. It discusses these political topics both at the national level and at the European level and with the rail industry. Moreover, it prioritises marketing of rail freight companies. The VDV participates in many events, e.g. the international VDV railway congresses, the events in the single German states as well as marketplace and cooperation events with associations of the forwarding and loading agencies, and thus contributes to bringing the partners of the market together and to making cooperation possible.

The member companies profit from the close networking within the VDV. They also profit from VDV’s experts, who help them to master their entrepreneurial challenges.

Thanks to its success, the VDV is also an established address in Europe. Numerous national and European associations cooperate with the VDV. To railways especially the cooperation with the ERFA (European Rail Freight Association) and the UITP (International Association of Public Transport) is important. Together with the ERFA and the European office of the UITP, the VDV influences the European Parliament, the EU Commission and the Council of Ministers to realise the success of the trade in Germany in Europe. It is very important to the VDV that access to the market is identical in all member states of the EU and that barriers are removed. Cars and trucks compete strongly with the railway. The European rail sector has to try and improve the chances of the railway in this competition to gain the biggest possible benefit to economy, the population and the environment.

About the author

After his doctorate in 1990, Dr. jur. Martin Henke became a departmental head of the Water and Shipping Administration West in Münster (North Rhine-Westphalia). In 1993, he changed to the Federal Ministry of Transport as a departmental head, as from 1998 he was the Deputy Head of the Department for Railway Policy. In 2000, he changed to the Association of German Transport Companies (VDV). At first, he was the Freight Traffic Manager and he is now the Director of the Railway Traffic Sector. Dr. Henke is a member of several boards of international organisations, including the Board of the European Rail Freight Association (ERFA) and the Administrative Board of the European Rail Agency (ERA).

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