Port of Ghent

North-Sea Baltic corridor now includes North Sea Port

The European Commission is extending the rail freight corridor between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea to the Ghent-Terneuzen Canal Zone. This fulfills a long-held wish of the North Sea Port, which wants to strengthen its role on the European map. Being included in one of the European Rail Freight Corridors (RFC’s) means being part of the prioritised railway network in Europe. The port is now part of three of these corridors.

Apart from the North-Sea Baltic (NSB) corridor, North Sea Port was already included in the Rhine-Alpine corridor and the North Sea-Mediterranean corridor. Although the last two run from north to south, the NSB corridor connects the most important North Sea ports with Central Europe and the Baltic States, providing a rail bridge between eastern and western Europe. It runs from Belgium and the Netherlands via Germany, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia to Estonia. In Poland, the corridor connects to the New Silk Road.

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North Sea-Baltic corridor before addition of Ghent

European support

Joining the third corridor is good news for the port and the port companies. With the development of these main axes, Europe wants to give rail freight transport a boost as an alternative to road transport. Infrastructure projects in the corridor have a better chance of European support. They may also be placed higher on the agenda of infrastructure managers such as ProRail in the Netherlands and Infrabel in Belgium.

Shippers and rail operators can now more easily obtain capacity or “train paths” to run trains on that route. They thus participate at the European level. This opens up new economic opportunities for them. Numerous terminals and companies within North Sea Port are directly connected to the rail and make intensive use of it to supply or remove goods. After all, the port area is at the crossroads of the European railways (as far as China).

Rail ambitions

North Sea Port keeps rail transport on top of the agenda. Every year, 7 to 8 million tonnes of cargo enters or leaves the port by rail. That is 10 per cent of all freight transport between the port and the hinterland, a relatively high share compared to other ports on western Europe. More than 300 trains come and go every week.

North Sea Port has the ambition to further increase that share. This is in line with the strategy of sustainability and greening. Together with companies and many partners, the port is actively committed to the completion of the line between Vlissingen and Antwerp and between Terneuzen and Zelzate, to tackle a number of bottlenecks on the railways in the port area and to use railway line 204 for passenger transport between Gent-Dampoort and Zelzate.

Author: Majorie van Leijen

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

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