3 contractors up for the job: making Rotterdam yards fireproof in 8 months

Three contractors have committed to the construction of fire extinguishing facilities and emergency roads at the five freight yards in the Rotterdam port area. These facilities must be in place on 1 January 2023, after a long period of uncertainty and sometimes unavailability of some of these yards for the shunting of dangerous goods.

The relevant job has been assigned to the companies BAM, Swietelsky and Dura Vermeer These contractors signed realisation agreements with the infrastructure manager ProRail in April, and now have eight months to complete the fire extinguishing facilities.

Timeframe realistic?

Whether this is enough time for what ProRail describes as a mega job is all but certain. According to the infrastructure manager, they have created a working environment that maximises the chance of completing the job. The engineering and construction teams will work side-by-side and simultaneously.

“In 2022, work will be carried out on five sidings simultaneously on the construction of new fire extinguishing facilities and emergency roads. The design came about in a very short time and on some points is not yet completely finished”, ProRail explains.

Why is this important?

The sense of urgency to complete the facilities on time can be understood by looking at a series of events that took place over the last two years. On 13 September, Waalhaven south, one of the yards in the port, became unavailable for the shunting of dangerous goods because the fire safety facilities did not meet the local standards. This continued for 19 months, causing great distress among operators.

On 1 April 2021, a temporary solution was found in the form of an extinguishing train. This allowed the shunting of dangerous goods to resume. However, ProRail was still required to find a permanent solution. This solution seemed further away than ever when ProRail reported a budget deficit of 43 million euros in February this year. Realising the dire situation, the ministry promised to support the project financially. Up till now, it is not clear whether it has committed to compensate for the missing amount in full.

Construction starts

Nevertheless, the construction works will now be started. Compared to the current situation, four times as many emergency roads are required, which must also be considerably wider than they are now. The roads must be accessible from two sides so that the fire brigade can always extinguish the fire downwind. Dry fire mains are making way for a more extensive network of wet ring mains with fire hydrants.

Contractor BAM is responsible for Waalhaven South, Dura Vermeer is working on Pernis and Maasvlakte West and Swietelsky is carrying out the work on Botlek and Europoort.

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Author: Majorie van Leijen

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

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