Freight train in Netherlands, source: ProRail

The Netherlands: 740-metre trains in timetable 2020

In the Netherlands 740-metre long trains will be included in the timetable from next year. This was announced by the infrastructure manager ProRail on Monday morning.  The average length of freight trains in the country is now 650 meters. But from next year, a few trains with a length of 740 meters will run over the tracks on a regular basis.

“This makes it easier to compete with road transport”, reports ProRail. The aim is to increase rail freight volumes from 42 million tonnes in 2016 to 54-61 million tonnes in 2030. According to the infra manager, tests with longer freight trains went well last year. For example, various scenarios have been simulated to resolve any complications for regular train traffic as well as possible. The change has been communicated to the more than thirty carriers of passenger and freight trains.

Squeaks and creaks

“Rail capacity is approaching its limits faster than expected”, says ProRail. Based on the demands of the 34 carriers, a large puzzle had to be resolved “to divide the available space on seven thousand kilometers of track and more than four hundred stations”. The increase in train traffic is noticeable for the planners, says the rail manager. “It squeaks and cracks when creating a new timetable.”

Other changes to the new timetable mainly concern passenger transport. For example, trains in the timetable for 2020 are no longer classified per minute, but per ten seconds. The advantage of this is that the train run can be fitted in more precisely “and we again create some space on the jammed Dutch track,” says ProRail.

From 15 December, there will be six instead of four intercity trains per hour between Amersfoort and Utrecht. There are also more trains between Eindhoven and Dordrecht. In the summer, more trains will run between Zandvoort and Haarlem, partly due to the return of Formula 1 on the Zandvoort circuit.

Author: Majorie van Leijen

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

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