Image: Antwerp Port Authority

Antwerp wants to take over rail operations in port

The Port of Antwerp wants to take over the management of 1,000 kilometre of railway within and around its perimeters, a responsibility currently carried out by Infrabel. The Port of Antwerp is not satisfied with the management of its railway. Several options for a take-over will be discussed in May this year.

The ambitions of the Port of Antwerp were reported by Belgium publication De Tijd. Accordingly, the Port authority is currently studying how it could exploit the railway network. A full purchase is an option, although it could also take-over the management of rail on the Left Bank, where most large container terminals are located. In addition, it is studying leasing and purchasing possibilities.


The media report states that Jacques Vandermeiren, CEO at the Port of Antwerp, has publicly criticised the management of the railway network facilitating the port. It lacks flexibility, and does not respond sufficiently to the needs of companies operating in the harbour. As a result, these companies opt for transport by truck.

Currently, rail transport from and to the port represents only seven per cent. According to Vandermeieren this share could be increased significantly. He plans to focus on rail and barge as the main transport modes, and it is within this light that he wants to be able to manage the network himself.

Port management

Infrabel currenly manages the entire railway network in Belgium, in contrast to neighbouring countries, where the management of railway in ports is usually in the hands of the port authorities. This is at least the case in Hamburg and Rotterdam, the main competitors for the Port of Antwerp. The latter launched an initiative called Railport a few rails ago, with the aim of enhancing efficiency in the grouping of containers transporting chemicals. However, the anticipated results were not achieved, according to The Tijd.

The Port of Antwerp is one of the largest and most important ports of Europe, located at the junction of three main railway corridors, being the Rhine-Alpine Corridor, the North Sea-Mediterranean Corridor and the North Sea-Baltic Corridor. It houses a complex network of railway including huge sets of tracks, where containers are gathered, loaded and shunted.

Author: Majorie van Leijen

Majorie van Leijen is editor of, online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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