Dutch railway network full, little space for more rail
The Dutch rail network, which spans over 7,300 kilometres, is as good as full, said infrastructure manager ProRail. However, there is little point to building new railway lines, as there is almost no room for them. The only way to allow for more train traffic is to better utilise the existing network. And this is very much needed, as the requested capacity is increasing next year.
ProRail presented the rail capacity distribution for 2019 on Monday. The number of freight trains scheduled for next year increased by 8 percent compared to this year. ProRail expects that trains will travel a total of 165 million kilometres in 2.2 million trips on the Dutch rail network – a new record. In 2004, trains ran 129 million kilometres on the Dutch rails.
Time Table Redesign
ProRail said that one way of optimising the existing network is by committing to innovations, such as the project Redesign of the International Timetabling Process (TTR). This is an initiative of European institutions RailNetEurope (RNE) and Forum Train Europe, with the aim of harmonising the distribution of capacity on the European rail network and as such, optimise current capacity.
According to ProRail, 96 per cent of scheduled freight trains eventully deviate from the scheduled place or time. “This is due to the dynamic nature of rail freight. The load is often only apparent shortly before the journey starts. A project as TTR will help ProRail to schedule freight trains more efficiently. Trains will be enabled to make unscheduled journeys more often, without the need of cumbersome timetable changes.”
More marshalling space
The rail network also comes short of marshalling space, the Dutch infrastructure manager said. This is true for train paths with a lot of traffic and as such, there are several bottlenecks. ProRail agrees that a solution must be found and suggested to offer marshalling as a service, in order to optimise existing marshalling yards. In this way, ProRail would have a better overview of the capacity distribution, it claimed.
The increase in rail transport in the Netherlands is caused by higher volumes of both transit and inbound freight of foreign origin, Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reported earlier. Transit goods are transported by rail within the Netherlands but have their place of loading and unloading abroad. The share of transit trade doubled from 4 per cent in 2007 to 8 per cent in 2017. In the same period, the share of inbound transport went up from 22 to 25 per cent. The total volume of goods transported from the Netherlands to other countries has hardly changed; from 24.7 million tonnes in 2007 to 24.9 million tonnes last year.