Betuweroute, image: ProRail

‘Dutch should complete connection to Betuwe Route’

Dutch rail freight companies urge their government to complete the railway lines that connect the freight dedicated Betuwe Route to neighbouring Germany. Only then can the full potential of this rail freight corridor be reached. This was part of the message sent to Dutch government in an open letter by lobby organisation RailGood.

The railway lines referred to are the connections between the Betuwe Route and the border crossings at Oldenzaal (North branche) and Venlo (South branche). The Dutch commitment to build these railway lines was formalised end of 1992, when the Netherlands signed the Warnemünde Convention with Germany.

Promises made

“We are now almost 30 years further and obligations such as the construction of a North branch and a South branch have not been fulfilled. This has had its consequences. As a result, the Betuwe Route cannot be used in its full capacity, while the need to transport more goods by rail has only increased”, the letter reads.

The German part of the commitment was, among others, to build the railway stretch between Emmerich and Oberhausen. Until now, this has not been achieved. Germany is currently working on the construction of the so-called Ausbaustrecke Emmerich – Oberhausen or Third Track. This railway line covers a length of more than 70 kilometers.

No noise pollution

The letter also asks attention for the situation of rail freight in the Netherlands in general. The rail freight industry has teamed up with inhabitants along the railway routes to address issues as sound pollution, one of the well-known critiques of rail freight traffic in the country.

“Current plans to intensify the transport of goods over mixed railways and through towns and villages, such as the Meteren-Boxtel Line, is a dead end for local residents. Rail residents want a good night’s rest and a pleasant living environment. Freight carriers want business continuity and the space to be able to grow on rail. Railways must connect Dutch ports, industry, terminals and logistics centers to the hinterland in a safe, competitive, efficient and sustainable way”, the letter reads.

Efficient policy

The concerns of both can be addressed if the government adopts efficient policy. This “requires priority and urgency for substantial investments in a well-integrated and competitive rail network in the Netherlands that seamlessly connects to the rail network in neighboring countries”, the group suggests.

According to the industry, the North and South branche are in particular examples of railway lines where residents are not affected. This is supported by a research of RONA, an organisation dedicated to the North branche. This has demonstrated that the North branch of the Betuwe Route is a good alternative for the economy, quality of life and climate in terms of liveability for residents and in terms of economic and technical feasibility.

Author: Majorie van Leijen

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

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