Containers at Port of Rotterdam. Photo credit: Alf van Beem

Video: Why take the train from Rotterdam to Poland?

The port of Rotterdam has a lot to offer to the Polish market. Not only as a deep-sea port, but also for its rail connections. In most of the cases, the train is faster, said Gilbert Bal, who is in charge of the rail operations to the largest port of Europe.

At the RailFreight Summit Poland, which takes place from 1-3 September in Poznan, the port of Rotterdam plays a large role. It hosts the business breakfast (2 September), in order to reach out to the Polish market and discuss the opportunities. Gilbert Bal will be speaking to the audience later that day about the advantages of taking the train.

Watch the interview with Gilbert Bal

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“The port of Rotterdam is the first and last port of calls for many ships. This means that taking off and transloading cargo on the train could be faster than staying on the vessel”, said Bal. “It depends of course on the day of departure and the time slot at the terminal in Poland. But, in 90 per cent of the cases, the train is faster.”

More departures

The coronavirus has surely impacted the traffic, but there are good signs that the demand is picking up, he says. For example, P&O Ferrymasters will increase its departures to Poland from 7 to 8. “This is a very good sign and reason to choose for rail rather than the road.”

In April this year, Metrans and PCC Intermodal also increased their departures, but this was hampered by the coronavirus. We hope that the step taken by P&O Ferrymasters encourages other operators to increase their departures as well.”

Length restrictions

Although the rail specialist strongly believes in the advantages of rail, he also acknowledges that improvements can be done on the connection between the Netherlands and Poland. One of these is the length of tracks. It is currently not possible to operate a 740-metre long train between the countries.

“In the Netherlands this is possible, but the length restrictions come in as soon as you cross the border with Germany. The Betuweroute should improve this situation, and the commitment has been made to facilitate longer trains across Europe by 2030. But any year sooner is better.”

RailFreight Summit Poznan

Do you want to hear more from Gilbert Bal? Although tickets for physical attendance of the RailFreight Summit in Poznan are sold out, livestream tickets are available. You can find these here.

Gilbert Bal will be speaking at the session about intermodal connections. Other speakers include Maciej Brzozowski from the port of Hamburg, Dominik Landa from Deep-Sea Terminal Gdansk, Daniel Saar from DB Cargo Poland, Pawel Moskala from Real Logistics and Roumen Markov from Large Infrastructure Projects.

Author: Majorie van Leijen

Majorie van Leijen is the editor-in-chief of, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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