Rail freight transport

Some 80% of rail freight in the Netherlands comes from or is destined for other countries. The Dutch government therefore works with other European governments to create good international rail links.

Rail freight routes

In the Netherlands freight trains travel on fixed routes as much as possible. One important route is the Betuwe Line - a fast, direct link between the port of Rotterdam and Germany. Many international freight trains use this line. An additional track will be laid along the line between Zevenaar and Oberhausen (Germany).

European agreements on rail freight transport

European rules apply to the transport of freight by rail in the European Union (EU), so companies do not have to comply with different rules in each country.

Once it is built, a locomotive is given a single thorough test to see whether it meets the requirements applying in all countries of the EU.

The EU is also working on mutual recognition of train driver training and certification. Trains can continue their journey more quickly if they do not have to change drivers at the border.

European safety system

A single European rail safety system is being introduced in Europe: the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS). This system will make it impossible for trains to pass through a red light.

Rail corridors in Europe

There are a number of main routes (or ‘rail corridors’) for freight trains in Europe. The most important ones for the Netherlands are:

  • Rotterdam - Genoa
  • Rotterdam - Lyon
  • Rotterdam - Poland/Czech Republic

The EU member states want freight to travel to its destination by rail quickly, efficiently and without delay. They are therefore working together to develop these routes. The route from Rotterdam to Genoa, for example, will be fitted with ERTMS in 2015. If the entire route is fitted with the same equipment, trains 750 metres long will be able to use it.

The Rotterdam - Genoa and Rotterdam - Lyon rail corridors are complete. The Rotterdam - Poland/Czech Republic corridor must be finished by 10 November 2015.

See also