Netherlands sector appeal

A new government, a new appeal from the Dutch rail freight sector

Image: © Overlegorgaan Fysieke Leefomgeving

On 2 July, the Netherlands got its new government. Parties involved in Dutch rail freight figured that new leadership may also provide new opportunities, and a branch platform was quick to reach out to the infrastructure ministry’s new officials with its wishlist on 3 July.

The “Platform Spoorgoederenvervoer”, or Rail Freight Platform, outlined what it considers to be the main issues for rail freight in the Netherlands. The Dutch rail freight sector has not exactly been happy with the previous government’s approach to rail freight, or rather, its lack of an approach. For that reason, branch organisation RailGood even celebrated when the previous government coalition fell apart. So, the first item on the wishlist is a clear “future perspective” that should offer rail freight parties predictability.

Moreover, the platform calls for the government to implement TEN-T agreements and focus on interoperability. Security systems, such as ERTMS, need to be affordable. At the moment, it will cost the sector hundreds of millions of euros to retrofit locomotives to implement ERTMS. On the most important routes, 740-metre trains need to be facilitated.

International rail freight

The parties also appeal to the new ministry leadership to cooperate with Belgium and Germany on the development of an interoperable rail freight network. The vast majority of Dutch rail freight transits the country deeper into Europe. Similarly, the platform says that national rules need to be limited in order to better implement European legislation.

One of the remaining items on the list is unified legislation on railway yards. Dutch municipalities, of which there are 342, create their own rules at the moment.

Lastly, as one of the world’s most densely populated countries, the negative externalities for local residents caused by rail freight likewise take a prominent spot on the list. According to the platform, the government should formulate clear policy on construction along tracks, measures to reduce noise and vibrations when trains pass. Suitability for military transport is also among the wishes of the platform.

Rail Freight Platform

The Dutch Rail Freight Platform was established in 2023 upon request of the previous state secretary for infrastructure. It brings together private rail freight parties, government officials, resident representatives and a representative of infrastructure manager ProRail. Together, they advise the ministry on rail freight policy.

Author: Dennis van der Laan

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