Dutch ministry comes to rescue for Waalhaven yard in Rotterdam

The Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management has agreed to provide financial support for a permanent fire extinguishing facility at Waalhaven South, a shunting yard in the port of Rotterdam. Currently, the yard has a temporary solution in place, and a permanent solution is promised to be delivered by 1 January 2023. The financial support should ensure that the deadline is met.

ProRail previously informed the municipality of Rotterdam that it was short of 63 million euros for the realisation of working permanent extinguishing facilities at Waalhaven South, while 20 million euros had been reserved for the project.

Not the entire deficit

A spokesperson for ProRail reports that the railway manager and the ministry “have ragreed to use financial resources”. A spokesperson for the ministry indicates that this does not mean that it will cough up the 43 million euros in deficit.

“The municipality of Rotterdam has announced that there is a deficit of 43 million, but this is not yet a ‘hardened estimate’. We have now agreed that the contractor will continue with the work within ProRail’s budgets, so that the yard will meet the safety requirements by 1 January 2023. We still have to map out the larger shortage.” The ministry, ProRail and the municipality of Rotterdam are discussing the financing of the subsequent phase and the feasibility of the term.

Safety regulations

On January 1, 2023, the five freight yards in the port of Rotterdam must comply with the new safety regulations. This is necessary to be able to continue shunting with hazardous substances. This means: the construction of emergency roads and fire extinguishing pipes so that all five yards continue to meet the permit requirements set by the Municipality of Rotterdam. ProRail has been granted an exemption until January 1, 2023 due to the deployment of a temporary fire extinguisher train.

For safety reasons, the municipality of Rotterdam does not want to renew the permit for the temporary fire extinguishing train at Waalhaven South. Politicians also stepped up pressure to have the extinguishing facilities meet the safety requirements quickly.

VVD MP Fahid Minhas believes that, in view of the results of the independent investigation by the Crisislab bureau, ProRail should have taken action at least a year and a half ago to get the extinguishing facilities in order. He also indicated that “every effort must be made to meet the end date of January 1, 2023”.

Important step forward

Hans-Willem Vroon, director of interest groups RailGood, thinks the financial agreements that have now been made between the ministry and ProRail are an “important step forward to tackle the next transport crisis at Waalhaven-South, a crucial yard in Europe’s largest port and its world-class (petro)chemical cluster”.

“January 1, 2023 is crucial for rail freight operators, who have been duped for many years by this hassle and overdue and delayed maintenance and renewal of the rail infrastructure that ProRail is responsible for under the responsibility of the Ministry of Infrastructure & Water Management. Rail freight customers must be able to count on us, with a competitive product,” emphasises Vroon.

This article was originally published on Spoorpro, our sister publication. 

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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