Beer train on the way to beer lovers around the world

Beer container lifted

From now on, Stella Artois beers on the way to the port of Antwerp are delivered to their export gate by train. The Belgian beer manufacterer AB InBev has announced a major shift to rail for its breweries. A new train connection and the ‘beer train’ were officially launched on Monday, in the presence of Minister-President of Flanders Jan Jambon.

The train connection links the warehouse of Katoen Natie, where the trains are filled with Stella Artois, with Kaai 1742 MPET, the quay where the bottles find their way to the rest of the world. With this connection the ring road of Antwerp is relieved of some 20.000 trucks a year. The beer train is collective effort of AB InBev, Katoen Natie, train operator Lineas and DP World, which operates the terminal.

Modal shift

The beer producer already made several train journeys in 2019. 15,000 containers were shipped via an existing train connection last year. With the new connection, this number of units will amount to 20,000 containers. This results in 20,000 trucks taken off the congested ring road. And this means less pressure on the road network, 440,000 fewer kilometers traveled on the road and 75 per cent of CO2 saved, the parties argue.

“The export of Stella Artois continues to grow and that also brings a responsibility”, says Alexander Soenen, brewery director of Stella Artois. “From Belgium, the Home of Beer, we want our beers to reach beer lovers worldwide, but in a sustainable way. Together with Katoen Natie and other partners, we make this modal shift possible.”

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Beer Train route

Stella for export

Stella Artois is being drunk today by consumers in more than 100 countries. Since 2014, the volume of Stella Artois exports from Belgium has doubled with an annual growth rate of almost 8 per cent. In fact, 90 per cent of Stella Artois brewed in Belgium is intended for export, 75 per cent of which is destined for the US, but also for Canada, Mexico and South Korea.

It is unique that a container train is used for a direct connection between a warehouse and a specific quay. Usually this transport takes place with the necessary stops in terminals or shunting stations. “At the request of AB InBev, DP World (quay management) and we have started looking at a specific route to quay 1700. That new train connection will replace all existing freight transport on that route and thus take 5000 trucks off the road in 2020. This testifies of a strong sustainable long-term commitment”, says Bob Van de Vondel from Katoen Natie.

Positive trend

“With increasing congestion in and around Antwerp, more and more companies are looking at the railways to get their cargo out of traffic. With this beer train everyone wins: our customers, the climate, but also the passengers on the road”, adds CEO Geert Pauwels of Lineas.

According to Jambon, who inaugurated the train connection, this new rail connection is an example of what is possible when top companies think together about sustainable transport and efficiency. Jambon: “The already clogging road network will not be able to accommodate the growing freight transport. So – as AB InBev and Katoen Natie are doing here today – we will have to make even more use of the railways and our under-utilized waterways to bring our goods on site in a smooth, safe, environmentally-friendly and reliable manner. ”

Author: Majorie van Leijen

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

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