Getting rail on the fast track

The general public tends to associate the biggest port in Europe with quays, waterways, vessels and cranes. But as you know, the port of Rotterdam is much more than that. It is not merely a destination but a link in the logistic chain going from A to B. All products entering the port have to be transported to their final destination - and rail transport is a great way to do that.

Where rail transport is concerned, there are still numerous growth opportunities for the port of Rotterdam. Following the completion of the Maasvlakte2, the development of the internal European market and economic growth in Central and Eastern Europe, we expect to see strong growth of container volume.
Along with inland shipping, rail transport is the prime modality to accommodate this growth in container traffic to our hinterland. Rail transport is fast, reliable, efficient and sustainable. And not only that: it also has considerable commercial potential. A great rail product will expand our hinterland to regions which are inaccessible to inland shipping and create new cargo flows to and from the port of Rotterdam.

Currently, around 250 rail shuttles start and end at Rotterdam every week. However, we will have to work hard to fulfil rail transport’s potential. Besides improving the physical infrastructure, we need to introduce new rail services, improve reliability and ensure optimal coordination. We must also be more customer focussed. Inland shipping has set a great example. Through hard work, entrepreneurship and market thinking, the inland shipping sector has convinced many transport companies to switch to barge. And rail doesn’t have to lag behind. If we focus on opportunities and stop thinking in terms of limitations, we can get rail on the fast track.

Great progress is already being made. In 2015, the construction of the third track, the extension of the Betuweroute to Oberhausen, is planned. We are also launching the Container Logistics Maasvlakte (CLM) project, which involves bundling containers using the existing rail terminal capacity on Maasvlakte 1 and 2. CLM aims to create a central coordination centre (Maasvlakte Control Centre) to plan and manage rail traffic on the Maasvlakte. Other steps are the recently added direct rail connection between Rotterdam and Wolfurt in Austria or the shuttle from ECT to Nuremberg.

The Port of Rotterdam Authority strongly encourages market initiatives. With the Rail Incubator project, we support the introduction of new maritime rail shuttle connections. But to boost rail, collaboration between terminals, rail operators, railway infrastructure managers and shippers is key. By joining forces, we can turn the port of Rotterdam into the leading sea-rail hub we want and need it to be – that is my perspective. To accommodate the port of Rotterdam’s future growth, we need all modalities. And you can help boost the growth of Rotterdam’s rail product too. Put your cargo on the train and experience the benefits of rail transport!

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