Antwerp and Liege want more rail with China
On 7 July, the Ports of Antwerp and Liege signed an agreement aiming to boost multimodal inland connections between them. Rail freight has a prominent role in their plans to enhance connectivity and better cargo distribution. However, as the port of Antwerp mentioned, there is a strong possibility that the ports’ rail connections would not restrict only within Belgium. Specifically, plans include an extension of the rail link between China and Liege to Antwerp.
Liege is an important hub for the Benelux region and its connection to the New Silk Road. It connects with various Chinese cities like Zhengzhou and Chengdu. In fact, China-Liege connections are quite frequent, with departures from the latest destination taking place daily. If the train connection extends to Antwerp, then a new Silk Road hub will emerge, providing more opportunities for cargo distribution also by maritime shipping.
The two port’s focal point is to enhance their connectivity on the Albert canal axis. Be it by rail or vessels, their main prerequisite is to shift as much cargo as possible from Belgium’s congested roads. The agreement was signed by Jacques Vandermeiren, CEO of the port of Antwerp, Willy Demeyer, president of the autonomous port of Liege and Emile-Louis Bertrand, director-general of the autonomous port of Liege. Their pact will last for three years until 2024.
Clear focus on rail
Rail freight connections constitute one of the central pillars for the cooperation of the two parties. As the port of Antwerp emphasised, “anchoring links between the port of Antwerp and its hinterland is essential. Optimising connections to a logistics hub such as Liege is a decisive factor for our success.”
In this sense, the two ports also want to optimise the utilisation of terminals along the Albert Canal axis. For this to happen, rail freight will need to play a prominent role and help the two ports set up a supply chain with as few obstacles as possible. Developing parallel inland shipping links will also help significantly since “the development of multimodal transport is at the heart of future freight transport”, commented the port of Antwerp.