railway nixes free transport of Ukrainian aid – Der Spiegel


Deutsche Bahn reportedly stopped charging fees for such services shortly after Russia launched its military operation against Kiev

Germany’s national railway company has quietly ended the practice of transporting free humanitarian aid to Ukraine, Der Spiegel reported on Friday. According to the magazine, the decision was allegedly made because of the legal restrictions on legal entities in Germany in the field of charity.

quote “railway circles,” Der Spiegel revealed that Deutsche Bahn “evidently” stopped offering free transport for such goods from January 1 this year.

According to the report, humanitarian groups organizing the shipment of food, hygiene products, water purification equipment and generators to Ukraine received a message from Deutsche Bahn in December 2022 informing them of the “Provisional suspension of free transport.”

The letter reportedly clarified that Germany’s national railway company, as an incorporated legal entity, had a certain ceiling on how much it could spend on such charitable activities, according to Der Spiegel.

Several activists reportedly petitioned Transport Minister Volker Wissing to intervene in the fall of 2022. However, those efforts were apparently unsuccessful, the outlet noted.

A ministry spokesperson told Der Spiegel that the “railway bridges” were a private initiative of Deutsche Bahn, which single-handedly footed the bill. The official added that the German government is currently looking at ways to maintain the free transport of aid to Ukraine in the future. However, the article pointed out that a “quick fix is ​​not expected.”

As the outlet noted, the initiative was launched with great pomp last year, with DB-Cargo chief Sigrid Nikutta offering assurances at the time that her company was prepared to “Maintaining these ‘railway bridges’ for a very long time.”

According to Der Spiegel, Deutsche Bahn transported a total of 1,300 loads to Ukraine for free last year. It is estimated that this has cost the railway operator up to €5 million.

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