Digitisation rail freight transport underway

7 April 2022
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In Rotterdam today, nineteen rail freight parties signed a partnership agreement for accelerated further growth of digitisation and data sharing in the sector. In the next two years, the foundation will be laid, under the leadership of the Port of Rotterdam Authority.

Rail freight transport

‘Due to our sustainability objectives, the Port of Rotterdam Authority together with the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management and the logistic parties focus on strong rail transport growth in the next few years,’ says Matthijs van Doorn, Commercial Director at the Port of Rotterdam Authority. ‘In the past year, rail freight transport has grown by ten per cent. It is our aim to continue building a competitive rail offer. We can only succeed if we take additional steps in efficiency, transparency and reliability. This requires good infrastructure, good market circumstances, digitisation, and data sharing.’

Rail Connected

The Growth Programme, Rail Connected, has arisen from the Rail Freight Transport Measures Package to promote rail freight transport. The programme is financed by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management and the Port of Rotterdam Authority. The Port of Rotterdam Authority coordinates the programme, which is designed together with the market parties.

A major part of Rail Connected is the further development of the current Notification Container Hinterland Barge service by Portbase, the provider of the Port Community System. As a result, the exchange of information between the chain parties is digitised further. ‘This will allow the possibility of reporting trains to the terminal, for instance, and information will be available about the composition of the train,’ Iwan van der Wolf, Managing Director of Portbase, explains. ‘Data will be accessible when information exchange is standardised and digitised. At a later stage and with the proper authorisations, we can make it available safely to the rail freight sector and other parties. In this way, we use smart innovations to develop improvements.’


‘The transparency and insights that come about due to digitisation will contribute to improved predictability of rail freight transport as a product,’ Van Doorn adds. ‘Eventually, this will help optimise the use of the railway, the trains, and employees. It will boost the growth of rail freight traffic. The Rail Connected growth programme is a first, major step to make this possible.’

Besides deep-sea container terminals RWG and Hutchison Ports ECT Rotterdam, the following parties from the rail freight sector participate: Contargo, CTT Rotterdam, Danser, DB Cargo Nederland, DistriRail, European Gateway Services, Haeger & Schmidt Logistics, KombiRail Europe, LTE, Neska Intermodal, Optimodal, Portshuttle, Rail Force One, Raillogix, Rotterdam Rail Feeding, RTB Cargo, and Trimodal Europe.