Rail freight at the Cabooter Group terminal in Venlo. Photo: Cabooter Group

Venlo and the growth of smart logistics

Venlo is attempting to acquire the role of a smart logistics hub in Europe. The Dutch city claims that it has all the needed features to realise this vision: an optimal location at the borders with Germany, advanced infrastructure with modern terminals and large capacities, as well as various stakeholders who cooperate and take important initiatives.

The region has seen multiple investments during the latest years. For instance, the largest inland rail terminal of the country is located there. The Greenport terminal got through the final stages of its construction last March. In June it received the first train . Nevertheless, this project is accompanied by smaller, but equally important projects. In combination with joint logistics and transportation development programmes, the aim is to draw the attention of smart logistics and become a hotspot in this regard.

With the term smart logistics, the sector defines the optimal use of a traffic system, in this case, multimodal transport traffic, in combination with effective logistics management. The key behind a successful combination lies in the efficient utilisation of data that can lead to a seamless flow of goods. As a result, a great deal of smart logistics relies on digitalisation and interoperability.

The city

On its behalf, the city of Venlo and the broader area has to offer strong incentives that can transform it into a smart logistics centre, not only for the Netherlands but for the whole of Europe. As mentioned, the city possesses the largest inland terminal of the country. Apart from that, it has three more rail terminals and two barge terminals connecting it with important waterways. Its position next to the border with Germany is also crucial. With the city of Monchengladbach being only 35 kilometres away, the networks of Limburg and the Ruhr industrial area are overlapping, creating, thus, a very strong multimodal crossroad that offers numerous possibilities. Moreover, Venlo has direct access to big international airports, making it possible to serve air transportation too.

The city has already started attracting attention. All parts concerned are underlining continuously that the Netherlands cannot be the limit. In contrast, the city’s infrastructure has the potential to provide services in different routes and corridors, including southern and western Europe and Scandinavia. Additionally, logistics also turn their gaze towards the Far East with an ambition to expand their business. As a matter of fact, this week, Venlo will receive four trains from China. This could be a significant development which proves that the future is promising.

Initiatives

The most powerful tool in the hands of the city is the strong cooperation that takes place between authorities, institutions and stakeholders of the rail freight and logistics sector. Their main motto is that good accessibility and traffic flow are essential for a smarter region, as well as for the business climate, the quality of life and intermodal trade.

It is interesting to take a look at two initiatives that aim to prove the city’s smart character. On the one hand, there is the innovative mobility programme smartwayz.nl. Its objective is to improve accessibility and enhance innovation by developing smart solutions and ameliorating infrastructure in transportation. Among the partners of the programme, one can find the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, the provinces of Limburg and Noord Brabant, a well as various other stakeholders, institutions and businesses.

On the other hand, smartlogisticscentrevenlo.com subserves a corresponding concept. With a focus on infrastructure, education, innovation and acquisition, Smart LCV brings together businesses, the government, and educational and research institutions. At the moment, approximately two hundred stakeholders are participating in the initiative.

New lifestyle

Understandably, the actors of Venlo’s transformation do not merely target to make the city a transport hub. Instead, they are attempting to cultivate a whole new culture or even a lifestyle, that can be sustainable both in terms of trade and living quality. This is not an easy mission, but it’s already making an impact. Hopefully, in the following years the sector will see more similar developments that can undoubtedly leverage its services.

Author: Nikos Papatolios

Editor at RailFreight.com

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