For those who know a little about freight rail transport in Port of Antwerp Bruges (PoAB), “bundle South” is a real concept. It is undeniably one of the most important bundles of tracks in the port area and it is also the only bundle with overhead lines in the Waaslandhaven. This port area, on the left bank of the Scheldt, is otherwise electrified to a limited extent. With financial support from the federal government and European subsidies, infrastructure manager Infrabel is investing almost €3 million in extra overhead lines and a small track expansion that is planned for next year. An investment that is good for the economy and the environment.
3.000 volts for greater efficiency, flexibility and cost savings
In the autumn of 2022, infrastructure manager Infrabel started further electrifying the so-called bundle South. This infrastructure consists of 32 tracks. Ten of these already had an overhead line and from mid-May another number will be added. This brings the total to 20 tracks with overhead lines and 12 without. This will provide additional capacity for electric locomotives, a high demand from industry and rail operators.
Bundle South often handles electric freight trains that travel long distances between the port and the hinterland. Because there are now 20 tracks with full-length overhead wires, this infrastructure is also more easily accessible from both sides of the bundle, reducing the need for time-consuming procedures in the logistics chain when handling freight trains. This investment in electrification therefore provides more efficiency, flexibility and lower costs, which in turn makes the transport of goods by rail more attractive.
A “power surge” for the economy
Bundle South is a so-called departure and arrival bundle where freight trains are put together according to their destination. Comparable to the large Antwerp North marshalling station on the right bank, but smaller. Yet it is one of the most used rail infrastructures in the port. Last year, for example, almost 20.000 trains were handled here, representing 4,9 million tonnes of goods.
The bundle of tracks is strategically located on the left bank, not far from the Deurganck dock, in a place where many large companies from the chemical and steel industry are active and where several large container terminals operate. Moreover, this place is a future growth pole in terms of employment. In order to support both the economic fabric of Belgium and the ambition of PoAB, Infrabel is investing a total of €2,7 million in this new infrastructure for freight transport, thanks to the recovery plan of the federal government and European subsidies.
Economy and environment
The traffic jams that clog up our roads every day cost our country, our economy and our environment a great deal. It is a combination of loss of time, wasted fuel and environmental pollution. A conservative estimate calculates that cost at 1% of our gross domestic product (GDP). Converted, that is more than € 4 billion annually! If you know that 1 freight train takes an average of 45 trucks off the track, then the railway is an essential link in solving the above-mentioned problems together.
Rail Vision 2030: doubling rail freight transport
The investment in bundle South is part of the sustainable rail vision 2030. This joint vision for the future, developed by Infrabel, PoAB and Railport Antwerp, aims 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 more attractive so that more and more companies choose it, according to the railway manager from Belgium.
Photo above: Infrabel image bank.