Containers at Port of Rotterdam. Photo credit: Alf van Beem

Rail traffic to and from the Netherlands back on track

Containers at Port of Rotterdam. Photo credit: Alf van Beem

After a week of disruptions, rail freight traffic to and from the Netherlands has started to move again. This weekend, several operators posted good news stories on social media. Emplacement yard Kijfhoek, which remained a bottleneck until Friday late afternoon, is now operational again. Train traffic to and from Germany is still facing hindrances, according to DB Cargo.

On Friday, rail freight traffic already started to resume. The port of Rotterdam, which was the main bottleneck, was accessible for most of its network. Kijfhoek was still partially unavailable, but this has now been resolved. “The emplacement yard was closed on Sunday until 3pm, in order to remove the snow”, says infrastructure manager ProRail.

According to the infra manager, the main routes to and from the border of Germany and Belgium can be used by freight carriers. There are, however, still some limitations of the rail infrastructure in the port of Rotterdam, including a broken switch in the Waalhaven, it wrote on Monday.

Netherlands-Germany still disrupted

“The service has been restarted”, said DB Cargo the Netherlands on Saturday morning. “Operations of terminals at rail connections across the country are resumed. This also means that the Rotterdam Botlek and Rotterdam Pernis sidings will be accessible again. The sorting process at Kijfhoek has resumed and all border crossings are in use.

“The situation in Germany remains serious, although it is also improving”, the operator adds. “The sorting stations in particular are still facing major problems as a result of the combination of abundant snowfall, strong winds and severe frost. As a result, the train traffic of DB Cargo to and from Germany is still seriously disrupted.

“Given the seriousness of the situation, it should be taken into account that it will still be quite some time before DB Cargo’s services are normalised. DB Cargo regrets the nuisance that its customers are currently experiencing.”

Netherlands-Italy operational

The train from Rotterdam to Novara that departed on Friday morning successfully arrived in the Italian hub on Sunday, said the operator Hupac. “Rotterdam is now taken over by the white of salt instead of the white of snow”, says Mark Jansen, head of Hupac Intermodal NV. “Terminal RSC is cleaned up, and the internal shunt process to and from RST is regular.

“After a week of snow and ice we are back in full strength: our trains to Busto, Novara, Brescia, Melzo, Vienna, Ludwigshafen and Mannheim are running again. For next week we are prepared to offer extra train capacity in order to recover.”

Rotterdam-Novara train by Hupac

Serious inconvenience

The extreme weather conditions have caused enormous inconvenience to freight transport. Especially in the port of Rotterdam there were problems due to snow-covered tracks, frozen switches and snow dunes. Although most tracks are now accessible, a full recovery is not there yet. There is a heavy backlog, and limited capacity. The maintenance on the Harbor Line that was planned this weekend has been postponed, so that freight transport can continue.

On an average day, about 125 freight trains run to and from the port of Rotterdam. This number was significantly reduced last week, with only two to three freight trains a day on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday, 51 trains were operated in and out of the port and on Thursday, this number was 82. These figures were presented by ProRail on Friday.

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Author: Majorie van Leijen

Majorie van Leijen is the editor-in-chief of, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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