Freek van Arkel

Northern branch of Betuwe route essential for Dutch rail freight

Public transport needs to become more resilient in the coming years. For the Dutch rail freight sector, the central issue is making a choice regarding the routing of goods trains from Rotterdam to North-East Europe. The Dutch State Secretary of Infrastructure and Water Management, Stientje van Veldhoven, set out a roadmap to this end in the Development Agenda for the Future of Public Transport.

Passenger transport and freight transport each have their growth ambitions. Consequently, the pressure on the railways is continuously increasing. As a result, investments are necessary. In 2017 the National Market and Capacity Analysis (NMCA), already foresaw a growth for rail freight transport from 41 million tonnes to possibly 61 million tonnes in 2030. Currently, there are expectations for an additional increase of 78 million tonnes in 2040.

Goods routing

Among the foundation stones of the multi-year Infrastructure, Space and Transport programme (MIRT) is, therefore, the choice for goods routing from Rotterdam to Germany and further to Eastern and North-Eastern Europe, the so-called North Sea-Baltic Corridor. At present, most of the products’ transportation takes place via the German town of Bad Bentheim.

The Dutch rail freight sector provided input to the development agenda through the Market Vision Ambition Network Rail Goods document. In this document, the sector identifies the goods’ routing as one of the main issues looking for resolution. Therefore, deploying a northern branch of the Betuwe Route is essential according to the market vision, since it would relieve the other busy corridors.

Betuweroute, image: ProRail
Dutch section of Betuweroute rail freight corridor

Southern branch of the Betuwe line

In its vision, the rail freight sector also proposes several infrastructural adjustments, to avoid urban areas as much as possible and establish good connections to freight yards.

The south branch of the Betuwe line and the Sophia rail tunnel’s adjustments on the existing Betuwe line constitute highly desirable items on the development agenda. The sector would also like to see optimisation developments on the Kijfhoek and Venlo marshalling yards. Furthermore, it is crucial for Amsterdam’s Asia port to undergo broadening works, while the same applies to the Ghent-Terneuzen canal zone. Finally, the rail freight sector calls for attention to the rail corridor 3RX (Rhein-Ruhr-Rail), the connection between Vlissingen and Antwerp (VeZa curve), as well as the eastern curve of Veendam.

Click here for the full Development Agenda for the Future of Public Transport.

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Author: Marieke van Gompel

Marieke van Gompel is editor of RailFreight.com and chief editor of the ProMedia Group online magazines.

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