THE Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure has allocated €100m for infrastructure upgrades to accommodate 740m-long freight trains on the national network.

This is the first step to implement a programme that will require €500m over the period to 2030, in order to meet the objectives of the EU’s Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) and create a core network suitable for freight trains up to 740m in length.

A feasibility study is now underway for improving the rail infrastructure that serves the port of Rotterdam. The €19.5m package includes €5.3m to make the siding near Merseyweg suitable for longer freight trains, increasing capacity at the Rotterdam IJsselmonde (€12.3m) and electrification of tracks in the Europoort yard (€1.4m).

At a cost of €500,000, a study will be undertaken to determine capacity enhancements required at Botlek to accommodate longer freight trains.

Infrastructure manager ProRail is currently undertaking corridor studies for routes from Dutch ports to the German border at Venlo and Bad Bentheim. Completion of the studies is scheduled for autumn 2023 and is expected to recommend measures to speed up the delivery of two tracks for 740m freight trains at Venlo.

Both ProRail and the Ministry of Infrastructure are looking to deliver these freight enhancements quickly and easily by combining them with other upgrade and maintenance work on the national network, and €90m is available for such projects.

These include work to create stabling capacity for freight trains at Rotterdam Noord yard. Elsewhere, the Ministry of Infrastructure recently announced investment at Lage Zwaluwe south of Rotterdam and the nearby port of Moerdijk to accommodate 740m freight trains. Work is also planned at Hengelo, Oldenzaal and Roosendaal.

Separate from the 740m train programme, investment will also be needed soon to relieve a bottleneck at Maasvlakte in the far west of the port of Rotterdam. Capacity is running out on the section of track known as the C curve that is used by trains moving between yards and port terminals.

It was initially forecast that capacity here would be sufficient until 2030, but freight train movements are growing considerably faster than expected. A joint capacity study by ProRail and the Port of Rotterdam has found that this will become a bottleneck soon, when total train movements reach 26,000 a year.

A new freight yard will be built at Maasvlakte Zuid, and capacity could be increased by electrifying the C curve and tracks serving the port terminals. This would also support the environmental objectives of the Port of Rotterdam, but no budget has yet been allocated for this work.

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