The CER. Photo: Port of Rotterdam

Extra money is needed to keep Harbour Line Rotterdam in check

If no extra money is made available for track maintenance, this will have major consequences for the accessibility of the port of Rotterdam. This leads to considerable disturbance and economic damage for rail freight operators. That is what the Dutch state secretary Steven van Weyenberg writes in answers to questions from D66 MP Faissal Boulakjar.

In the budget announcement of the Dutch ministry of Water and Infrastructure, a maintenance deficit of approximately 200 million euros came to light. Based on this news, Boulakjar asked the minister about the risks of such a deficit. Van Weyenberg believes that the maintenance of the railways in the port areas “requires catching up”.

Fitting financial setbacks into the budget

A few weeks ago, the state secretary reported in a letter to Parliament that extra money is needed to eliminate maintenance backlogs in the Rotterdam port area. He points out that a concrete proposal will be included in the Spring Memorandum to fit the financial setback into the budget for 2022.

ProRail has been working on an improvement programme for several years to solve maintenance backlogs in the port area. “From 2022, this program will fall under the management concession, which means that attention to maintenance in the Rotterdam port area is better safeguarded”, said the minister.

Rail maintenance costs are more expensive

The deficit is not new. Last year, an annual deficit of 200 million euros was projected from 2026 onwards. In a recent letter about the maintenance of the track, Van Weyenberg reported that the maintenance costs in the period up to and including 2030 will be approximately 100 to 150 euros more.

The higher costs are a result of the increased track usage intensity, higher management costs for ICT, the extra tasks that ProRail has been given in the event of a collision with a person and the catching up of overdue maintenance of railway infrastructure in the Rotterdam port area. For the year 2022, this specifically concerns an amount of 165 million euros.

The State Secretary reports that if “climate-robust implementation, sustainability requirements and cyber security” are implemented, this may lead to a cost increase of approximately 150 to 200 million per year.

Major consequences for accessibility

“Without additional resources for maintenance, choices will have to be made about our requirements of network quality, which maintenance can still be carried out and which maintenance is postponed. This is expected to have major consequences for accessibility and will be accompanied by significant nuisance and economic damage.”

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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