The CER. Photo: Port of Rotterdam

Dutch rail operators want all damage in Rotterdam compensated

Rail freight operators are fed up with the infrastructure problems on the tracks in the Rotterdam port area. They want ProRail to take responsibility and compensate all damage suffered. The damage is about 6 million euros per year, railway undertakings reported to interest group RailGood. 

Director Hans-Willem Vroon: “We have filed a claim with six parties. This claim is being treated painfully slowly and not very generously by ProRail. The many disruptions on the tracks have led to delays, cancellations of trains and extra costs due to diversions and extra train movements.”

The members of RailGood want ProRail to compensate not only direct damage, but also indirect damage. This concerns, for example, missed orders inability to meet performance agreements with shippers. ProRail would be responsible for this because “there has been a failure to properly carry out maintenance”.

Defects

The list of defects is too long to mention, according to Dennis de Roo, director of Distri Rail. “As transporters, we really have a big problem with the rail infrastructure in the Netherlands.”

For example, shunting on the Waalhaven with trains carrying dangerous goods has not been allowed since last year, because the extinguishing facility does not meet the requirements. As a result, we have shifted from Waalhaven to Kijfhoek, which requires more resources (such as diesel locomotives and personnel).

In addition, the Botlek Bridge has been out of service since the replacement of the old bridge. Various faults and defects ensure that driving can only be done via the Botlek tunnel, which means that part of the Botlek yard cannot be reached. This leads to capacity problems and additional transport movements. Moreover, the Pernis railway yard cannot be reached from the Botlek side, which means that it will take hours to divert.

Shunting ban

Fire extinguishers in Botlek, Europoort and Maasvlakte will be tested this year to see whether they meet the safety requirements. This could lead to a shunting ban involving hazardous substances. De Roo also mentions various malfunctions that occur every week, such as at the Caland Bridge. There are faulty overhead lines and malfunctioning switches.

Rail freight operators are also frustrated about the sand, which is regularly on the Maasvlakte – Euromax terminal route during strong winds. In such case, those routes are taken out of service for cleaning. “As a result, several trains are canceled, cargo is not delivered on time or even not at all, and operators sometimes even choose not to take containers”, explains De Roo. In addition, various tank plates in the port area are defective and switches need to be replaced.

No compensation

ProRail says it understands the problems with rail operators and acknowledges that things need to be improved. “But sometimes we have to deal with force majeure and the fight against the elements”, said spokesman Coen van Kranenburg.

“Solving the problems simply takes time.” The rail operator does not intend to compensate for all damage. “We have contractual agreements about the reimbursement of the direct extra costs that rail freight operators incur due to disruptions on the rail network. Indirect costs are not covered”, says Van Kranenburg.

Author: Bart Pals

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