“The traffic on site has increased considerably over the years,” acknowledges Jürgen Stumpf, “but luckily my guys are an experienced and well-trained team – nevertheless, they have to be incredibly careful.” The 45-year old recently saw a photo of railway employees dating back to the 1950s: at their ease, men in black uniforms smile at the camera, each holding a bottle of beer. “That would be unthinkable today,” says Stumpf, “we wear bright orange work clothing with fluorescent stripes and there is a 0.0 alcohol limit.” The days of communicating by yelling, whistling or using hand signals are long over, today railroad workers use radios. And the train drivers seldom sit in the driver’s cab, rather they stand next to the engine and steer it over the tracks using a remote control unit.
The railroad team consists of 14 employees who all started out as shunters because of their passion for trains, then rising through the ranks to shunt supervisor and perhaps even train driver or engine shunt supervisor – there are 8 in total and each one of them took a train driver exam with an external professional examiner. It is a small team that moves big loads – an average of 300,000 tons annually of incoming goods.
The railway team's many accident-free years are attributable to its high safety standards and outstanding protective equipment, but, as Jürgen Stumpf so succinctly puts it, another important factor is: “We work closely together, trust one another implicitly and each one can absolutely rely on the other.”