Kijfhoek classification yard, source: ProRail

New fire vehicles and emergency roads to make Kijfhoek safer

A new management agreement has been signed to improve the safety at Dutch emplacement yard Kijfhoek in Zwijndrecht. Two additional calamity roads and three new foam fire vehicles will be installed. In addition, the fire brigades of infrastructure manager ProRail and the South Holland South safety region will work closely together to make a final end to the long-term safety concern at the largest emplacement yard in the Netherlands.

State Secretary Stientje van Veldhoven of Infrastructure and Water Management signed the agreement on Monday 5 October, the same day when a critical report about the railway infrastructure around the port of Rotterdam was presented to the Dutch Parliament. The situation at Kijfhoek was also discussed. The yard has been closed for shunting with dangerous goods since last year, because the extinguishing facility does not meet the requirements. These topics will be discussed in the show of RailFreight Live today.

Earlier, the document was signed by CEO of ProRail John Voppen, Mayor of Zwijndrecht Hein van der Loo van Zwijndrecht and vice-chairman Reinie Melissant of the South Holland South Safety Region. With this, the parties have agreed to jointly invest in a permanent solution. In two years, incidents at Kijfhoek will be better and safer to reach and combat, they promise.

What is new?

ProRail will realise two extra calamity roads before the end of 2022. These are two new roads in addition to the two existing outer roads. The construction of these extra roads means that in the event of an incident, the tracks on the shunting yard are more accessible for the fire brigade and other emergency services. For example, an incident can be tackled faster, safer and more effectively.

Moreover, ProRail and the South Holland South Safety Region are jointly purchasing three new, specialised foam extinguishing vehicles. These foam fire vehicles, which have been extensively tested, are intended for both the Kijfhoek railway yard and the Railway zone in Dordrecht and Zwijndrecht. Thus, for two areas which are close to each other, two vehicles are available at all times, even if one of the three is out of service due to maintenance. The new fire fighting vehicles are faster, more agile and more sustainable than the current ones. They also have a longer range than the current vehicles.

Cooperation fire brigades

The fire brigade of ProRail and of the South Holland Safety Region will collaborate more intensively, the agreement reads. This means training people together, as well as sharing knowledge in the field of rail incidents and trains together. This closer cooperation should ensure a flexible and therefore more effective use of people and equipment.

The parties give an example of this. “In the event of an incident, the ProRail fire brigade can concentrate on the first deployment with a gas pack team. These are special suits that can be used when volatile substances escape. The fire brigade of the South Safety Region Holland Zuid will be on site quickly to supplement the deployment of the company fire brigade and to take over.”

Not just enough

Safety at the Kijfhoek marshalling yard has been under scrutiny since it opened in 1980.
magnifying glass. This was only exacerbated by an ethanol fire involving a freight wagon in 2011 and multiple incidents in 2018. The partners have worked hard to make a change, but, as van der Loo stated, this is not enough. “The next investments are already on the way. We will keep reminding the ministry and ProRail that safety at Kijfhoek is never finished!”

Van Veldhoven agrees with the mayor: “We are not there yet. Kijfhoek will be radically modernised in the coming years, so that freight transport can be handled even more safely and efficiently.” The current hill system is due for replacement. Van Veldhoven earlier called it an old lady, with its ailments and defects. By applying the latest insights and techniques in the modernisation of the hill system, the safety of that system should also be guaranteed in the future. ProRail says to be strongly committed to this modernisation.

Author: Majorie van Leijen

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

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