Test runs of 740-metre long trains in the Netherlands this summer

DB Cargo and Dutch infrastructure manager ProRail will start testing operations with 740-metre long freight trains end of this August. This is part of the measure package that was proposed by the Dutch government last week, in order to create a level playing field for the rail freight sector.

Currently, the Dutch railway network can facilitate a maximum train length of 650 metres. Operating longer trains enables more efficient and cost-effective railway services and is considered to be an important driver of a more competitive rail freight industry, hence the facilitation of longer trains is a crucial element of the recently launched action plan for rail freight in the Netherlands.

Test runs

The test runs will be carried out on the Brabant Route, between Sloe and Dillingen. The operation will be carefully prepared by ProRail, which analyses in advance the possible scenarios and complications which could occur on the network. The infrastructure manager also looks at the effect of longer trains on railway crossings, and other hurdles that may arise when the trains are in operation.

The facilitation of longer trains is a measure taken by many European countries. Neighbouring Germany announced earlier that it would be able to see 740-metre long trains on its network as soon as this year. Similar efforts are taken by Sweden, Poland, Switzerland, Italy and Spain.

Measure package

The measures proposed in the Netherlands came after years of negotiations held with the Spoorgoederentafel, a platform consisting of rail freight operators, shippers, sea ports and Dutch rail infrastructure manager ProRail. The aim is to increase rail freight volumes to 54-61 million tonnes in 2030, from a 42 million tonnes in 2016.

Apart from operating longer trains, the infra charge will be lowered, for which a grant amount of 12 to 14 million Euros will be made available per year, starting in 2019 and up until 2023. Moreover, the government will utilise national and European funds to facilitate the transition to ERTMS. ProRail said it expects to come back with results of the test runs of longer trains end of September.

Author: Majorie van Leijen

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

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