Rail freight in Rotterdam port disturbed by emergency maintenance

Theemswegtrace bridge

Dutch infrastructure manager ProRail limited rail freight operations on the port of Rotterdam’s harbour line on Tuesday, 19 April, late afternoon. Most disturbances occurred at the Maasvlakte sidings. Emergency repairs needed to be carried out on problematic switches. As a result, rail freight operations experienced nuisance with fewer trains able to travel.

“ProRail regularly runs measurement trains to check the rail tracks’ condition. That was also the case for Rotterdam’s harbour line. The test on Tuesday showed that several switches had to be repaired. After the repairs, rail freight traffic resumed”, said ProRail.

Project Infra in Order

ProRail is currently working on the Infra in Order project to restore the rail infrastructure in the port of Rotterdam, which is due to overdue maintenance. Work is divided into three work packages; each spread over a year. ProRail tackled 29 switches, 50 level crossings, and 10 kilometres of tracks in the first work package. In work package 2, which will be carried out in 2022, another 28 switches and 3 level crossings will follow. Work package 3 (completed in 2023) concerns the repairs of 35 switches, 25 level crossings and another 10 kilometres of track.

In response to the emergency repair on Tuesday, Hans-Willem Vroon, director of interest group RailGood, said that no timely action was taken in response to the Crisislab report on the state of the rail infrastructure in the port of Rotterdam. This report concluded in 2020 that rail infrastructure maintenance at the port of Rotterdam has been overdue for many years. It also identified various rail infrastructure bottlenecks branded as red flags needing immediate treatment. As a result of this report, ProRail launched the Infra in Order project.

Vroon criticised ProRail’s maintenance criteria. He mentioned that the infrastructure manager launches correction maintenance projects instead of predictive maintenance ones. Consequently, railway infrastructure assets do not reach their full technical lifespan, resulting, as it happened “for the umpteenth time”, that the port of Rotterdam is not accessible by rail.

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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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