‘Fire extinguishing at Rotterdam yards will meet 2023 deadline, money is there’

The Dutch infrastructure manager ProRail has sufficient financial resources to get the fire extinguishing facilities at five yards in the port of Rotterdam in place by the deadline of 1 January 2023. “We were coming short, but all the money needed for the permanent fire facilities has now been made available by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management”, said Jessica van den Bosch, account management director at ProRail during trade fair RailTech, which took place in week 25.

End of April, three contractors were assigned with the construction of fire extinguishing facilities in the Rotterdam port area. The awarding came after a long period of uncertainty and sometimes unavailability of some of these yards for the shunting of dangerous goods. It was received as good news for the industry, but there was no clarity on the feasibility of the project. ProRail had made clear earlier that it did not have sufficient funds.

Interview with the CEO

According to John Voppen, CEO of ProRail, realising the permanent fire extinguishing facilities in the port is a top priority. “We are working very hard to have the extinguishing facilities ready by 1 January and I expect that the deadline is met. We do some things twice as fast as usual”, he said during an interview at RailTech.

You can watch the full interview with the CEO pf ProRail here.

Why urgent?

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., but it was not clear whether it had committed to compensating the missing amount in full.
Construction starts

Construction started

The construction works have already 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.

This article was co-authored by Simone van der Lee. 

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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