Waalhaven yard in Rotterdam keeps extinguishing train till 2023

Waahaven South in the port of Rotterdam may continue operating with its current fire extinguishing system until 2023. A new, permanent solution is planned for February 2023. The terminal became available for shunting with dangerous goods in April this year, after it had been closed since September 2019, because the fire safety facilities did not meet the local standards. A temporary extinguishing system is now in place.

The Dutch Infrastructure manager ProRail has until the end of 2022 to come up with a permanent solution, it writes in its Bi-annual Report of the first half of 2021. This period was extended. “The authorities have approved with a postponement of the adjustment of the fire extinguishing system until 1 January 2023.”

Temporary solution

At the moment, a fire extinguishing train is made available at the yard. With the fire-fighting train and the fire-fighting truck from the calamity road, all intermediate tracks on the Waalhaven South yard can be covered in case of a fire. This solution was implemented in April, after many other solutions had been tested, without succes.

The fire extinguishing train meant that the yard could once again be used for the shunting of dangerous goods, after a closure of 19 months. This has had a great impact on the industry; many operators suffered extra costs as they had to divert their operations, or they lost business altogether.

‘Think along’

For the permanent solution, ProRail is taking into account the necessary costs, the
width of the current emergency roads, lack of physical space for new emergency roads and the impact of additional emergency roads on the capacity at the port yards.

“Given the necessary additional emergency roads and the scarce available space on the yards, we ask carriers, contractors, shippers, terminals and the Port of Rotterdam to think along about possible solutions”, ProRail writes in its report.

Inspections

The first problems at Waalhaven Zuid date from mid-September 2019. At that time, the fire safety authorities DCMR and VRR requested ProRail to conduct an integral test of the deployment of the company fire brigade and the functioning of the extinguishing water supply. The test did not go well. The extinguishing water system was not adequate. Immediately, the railway manager stopped shunting dangerous goods.

In order to better anticipate such events, ProRail has started a pilot to “get a better overview of all environmental and fire safety obligations, such as maintenance, inspections and tests. Representing this geographically makes it easier for inspectors and yard managers to understand what is expected. Also, it enables the operational and yard managers to make timely adjustments”.

Author: Majorie van Leijen

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

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