DB Cargo: rail freight traffic to and from the Netherlands may take longer

DB Cargo expects delays in single wagonload traffic to, from and in the Netherlands. This is because of restrictions at Kijfhoek, the main emplacement yard in the country, in combination with maintenance work on the railway section between Emmerich and Oberhausen. The German-based operator expects that wagons will be travelling longer for as long as these restrictions are in place.

At Kijfhoek, restrictions are in place until week 23, which is the first week of June. This is according to the information provided by infrastructure manager ProRail, says DB Cargo. Works on the railway section Emmerich-Oberhausen started on Satruday 18 April. Until 30 April, these will be carried out on a single track. More work is scheduled for the period 1-10 May. During this time, the route via Emmerich will be unavailable. “Train traffic to and from Germany will therefore have to deal with diversions.”, said DB Cargo. The works are part of the construction of the so-called Third Track, the dedicated rail freight line between the Netherlands and Germany and the German part of the Betuweroute.


By applying additional shunting operations at Kijfhoek, DB Cargo has been able to prevent delays in the single wagonload network so far. It is however not the first setback at the emplacement yard this month. From 6 till 8 April, operations of rail freight traffic came to a halt as ProRail closed two switches. The safety certificate of these switches was no longer valid.

The three-day restrictions at Kijfhoek followed shortly after a malfunction of the hill braking system, so that the system could not be used for more than a week. “Very frustrating at a time when there is a great demand for wagon-load trains”, said Jelle Rebbers, spokesman for DB Cargo at that time.

Much to be desired

“Due to the corona crisis, we see customers that we had lost over time come back to rail. In such a time, it is very frustrating that we have to report malfunctioning emplacement yard. With such news, you confirm the reason why they turned away from rail at the time. The reliability of rail leaves much to be desired.”

ProRail responded in sister publication Spoorpro saying that it understands the frustration of carriers, but it also emphasised that it was purely an availability problem. “Due to a change of contractors at Kijfhoek, something went wrong with the extension of the safety certificates of the switches at Kijfhoek. They should have resolved that among themselves, but it is our responsibility to make sure this happens. It is very frustrating that this went wrong. ”

Absolute mess

The restrictions at Kijfhoek are a continuation of a series of restrictions for rail freight traffic in the Rijnmond region, in the South of the Netherlands. For example, the problems with the extinguishing facilities at the Waalhaven yard are now a long-term file that can be closed in 2021 at the earliest. The problems with drifting sand on the Maasvlakte also recur regularly. Market parties have called railways around the port of Rotterdam an absolute mess at the moment, but this is an image ProRail disagrees with.

“The situation may not be optimal compared to the main track in the rest of the Netherlands, but it is certainly not a mess. Things go wrong everywhere, especially when so many organisations, people and technologies are involved. The hill system at Kijfhoek is very old, so sometimes it breaks down. We are working hard to renew the system, but things could still go wrong after that. The issue with the extinguishing system at Waalhaven are being worked on with great effort to find a solution.

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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