Dutch Kijkhoek irregularity: 7 switches non-operational

Shunting activities at the Dutch Kijfhoek railway yard were largely shut down just before 2pm on Tuesday afternoon by infrastructure manager ProRail and the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate. During an inspection of all 160 switches on the site, nineteen were found not to meet the recently tightened requirements. Seven switches had to be immediately taken out of service for maintenance.

According to ProRail, 60 to 80 per cent of the train traffic on Kijfhoek is currently stopped due to additional inspections. How long the disruption will last depends on what is further found during the inspections and what needs to be done on the switches to be able to use them again. “We hope to be able to give a definite answer on this later today”, said ProRail spokesperson Coen Kranenburg in a response.

Immediately out of operation

The nineteen switches with deviations came to light when analysing the data that a measuring train collected at Kijfhoek at the end of April. According to ProRail, twelve of these points need further inspection to determine how serious the defects are. Seven switches were immediately made non-operational. “They are locked so that trains can only go in one direction, but at the moment there is no traffic in these places anyway because of inspections”, says Kranenburg.

“We are now going to see whether the other twelve switches should also be secured or whether we can release them through maintenance. This causes serious inconvenience to our customers, but it is not a safety issue. ” According to ProRail, the reason for this relatively high number of points that do not appear to be satisfactory during the inspection can be explained by a combination of circumstances. First, there are the quality requirements that have been adjusted upwards. This means that switches that were still satisfactory during the previous inspection can now be rejected. In addition, the change of contractor or the more intensive control by the ILT could play a role.

Not under control

According to Hans-Willem Vroon of interest group RailGood, the issue concerns 25 switches and cross switches on Kijfhoek with deviations. “There are now major availability problems at Kijfhoek with radiation effects to the Waalhaven, Maasvlakte and Antwerp.” Vroon reacts furiously to the new disruption at Kijfhoek. Last month, two switches were also locked due to problems. That time, it was about expired safety certificates. “It is yet another proof that ProRail does not have its asset management under control. Why was the contractor not able or allowed to determine this?”, Vroon wonders in response on Linkedin.

DB Cargo Nederland, currently the only carrier that uses the Kijfhoek railway yard, has been asked for a response.

Author: Paul van den Bogaard

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