Transporting more, faster and cheaper goods by rail because that is good for the economy and good for the environment. That is the essence of this story. The neutral operation of the automatic loading ramp in the Antwerp-North marshalling yard, in the port, is an important springboard for achieving that goal. Because thanks to this rail infrastructure, in the largest and busiest freight station in Belgium, you can put together trains more efficiently. To level the playing field for everyone, Port of Antwerp-Bruges, Railport Antwerp, Lineas and Infrabel are working together to make this crucial installation available to all railway undertakings on equal terms.
Compose freight trains faster and more efficiently
Composing freight trains up to six times faster, that is the trump card of the automatic triage installation of the Antwerp North marshalling station in the Port of Antwerp-Bruges (PoAB). The importance of this logistics hub, where "puzzling" with freight trains is a daily occurrence, cannot be underestimated. However, this installation has been underused for quite some time. For many railway companies, its use is too high an investment because they need shunting locomotives and specialized personnel. Thanks to the collaboration between Port of Antwerp-Bruges, Railport Antwerp, freight forwarder Lineas and infrastructure manager Infrabel, this is now changing. At the heart of the plan: the neutral operation of the automatic grading installation. It is the first time in the history of the Belgian railway that something like this has happened. What's more, it's even a European first!
Level playing field for everyone
The neutral operation of the rail installation started on April 1, 2023. This means that it is available to all railway undertakings under equal conditions. Lineas is committed to carrying out shunting for everyone at competitive, transparent rates and conditions. This activity is monitored by Infrabel in collaboration with PoAB. In addition, the pricing for the triage services is controlled by the rail regulator.
The neutral management not only lowers thresholds, it also stimulates cooperation between different companies to collect their goods. As a result, some unnecessary train movements are canceled. This is not only safer, it also frees up more capacity in the already very busy track bundles in the Antwerp port area. This joint plan thus ticks all the boxes making rail freight transport in the PoAB even safer, faster, more efficient, more economical, more economical and more environmentally friendly.
Transparent software to monitor activities
In order to streamline the whole even further and better, Infrabel and PoAB are developing a high-performance software program. Customers can easily and quickly follow up on their requests via this computer system, which is linked to the grading installation. Users can monitor the status of their freight train and/or wagons in real time. For example when it is ready and where it is. Each step in the triering process is entered into the system and can always be consulted. This provides a clear overview for customers. Together with the neutral operator Lineas, the infrastructure manager will be ultimately responsible for planning, allocating capacity and finding solutions in the event of double bookings.
Modal shift – Doubling rail freight transport
The neutral management of the triage installation is an important part of the sustainable rail vision 2030. This common vision for the future, developed by Infrabel, PoAB and Railport Antwerp wants to double the share of the number of goods transported by rail in the port of Antwerp by 2030. This so-called modal shift aims to make rail attractive so that more and more companies choose it. Because those who transport their goods by rail opt for fewer trucks and fewer traffic jams on the road. And that is a win-win for the economy and the environment.
Federal government supports rail freight transport
Just last week, on March 24, 2023, at the proposal of Federal Minister of Mobility Georges Gilkinet, the federal government released €15 million to subsidize “distributed freight transport” by rail (loose wagons). The government approved a support scheme for this. This also fits in with the federal government's objective to double the volume of rail freight transport by 2030, according to Port of Antwerp-Bruges.