Overall rail freight volumes fell to 37.8 million tonnes after several years of growth.

The drop in traffic is attributed in part to changing energy policy in Germany, where the closure of coal-fired power stations has reduced the demand for coal imports through Dutch sea ports.

Outbound international traffic fell by 9.1% year-on-year, the first decline since 2009, but inbound traffic rose by 2.2%, with the German market driving growth.

Domestic rail freight traffic, which accounts for only 8% of the market, declined by 5.5% in 2017.