North Sea Port extends rail corridor to the Baltic

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The European Commission will extend the rail freight corridor between the North Sea and the Baltic Sea to the Ghent-Terneuzen Canal Zone. The Commission responded to the request from North Sea Port. It strenghtens the role of North Sea Port as a European top port and its ambitions as a rail port.

North Sea Port was already part of the ‘Rail Freight Corridor Rhine-Alpine’ (between the Rhine basin and the Alpine region) and ‘North Sea-Mediterranean’ (between the North Sea and the Mediterranean). ‘North Sea-Baltic’ is now added. This corridor runs from Belgium and the Netherlands via Germany, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia to Estonia. In Poland the corridor connects to the Chinese Silk Road.

European support

The accession to this third corridor is good news for the port and the port companies. By developing these main axes, Europe wants to boost freight transport by rail as an alternative to road transport. Infrastructure projects in the corridor have a better chance of receiving European support. They may also move up the agenda of infrastructure managers such as ProRail in the Netherlands and Infrabel in Belgium.

Shippers and rail operators can now more easily obtain capacity or train paths to run trains on that route. They are playing at European level. This will open up new economic opportunities for them. Multiple terminals and companies within North Sea Port are directly connected to the railway network and make intensive use of it to transport goods. After all, the port area lies at the crossroads of the European railways (up to China).

Rail ambitions

As a port, North Sea Port is strongly committed to rail transport. Every year, 7 to 8 million tonnes of cargo enter or leave the port by rail. That is 10% of the goods transport between the port and the hinterland. There are more than 300 trains every week in the port area.

North Sea Port has the ambition to increase this share even further. This is in line with the strategy of sustainability and greening. Together with companies and a lot of partners, the port is actively working on perfecting the line between Flushing and Antwerp and between Terneuzen and Zelzate, tackling a number of bottlenecks on the track in the port area and using railway line 204 for passenger transport between Ghent-Dampoort and Zelzate.

Hitachi Rail successfully tests first battery-powered tram

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Hitachi Rail has successfully tested its first battery-powered tram in Florence – an important milestone towards expanding the firm’s offer to market the vehicles across the world.

While traditional tram lines require electrified infrastructure – usually overhead wires supported by poles or pylons – that are expensive to install and visually unattractive. Battery trams offer the opportunity to run high capacity public transport through city centres, while saving millions on installing wires and reducing the visual impact on beautiful historic streets, like Florence.

The trial involves installing battery packs on an existing Hitachi-built Sirio tram, which covered a section of the line under battery power. The innovation allows power to be returned to the batteries when the train brakes, reducing the overall amount of energy consumed and protecting the environment.

This news is the latest in a number of announcements from the global mobility firm as expands its sustainability credentials and its zero-carbon offer to its customers around the world. Hitachi recently announced the trial of a battery train in the UK and delivery of hybrid trains in Italy, having built one of the world’s first battery powered train fleets that operates in Japan.

Hitachi has a rich heritage of building trams and tramways in Europe and in Asia, and is involved in new tram and metro infrastructure projects in the Americas and in the UK.

Andrea Pepi, Head of Sales and Projects Italy, Hitachi Rail said: “Our aim is to use our technology and our work to help build a sustainable society and contribute to the well-being of people around the world by improving their quality of life.”

“This is a key milestone as we pioneer this new technology that allow us to work with our customers to reduce infrastructure costs while still offering environmentally-friendly public transport. We hope this successful trial in Italy creates new opportunities for us across the world.”

The Mayor of Florence, Dario Nardella said: “We are happy that Hitachi Rail has chosen the tramway in Florence to test this innovation. Battery-powered trams can revolutionize this type of service within cities. Public transport, especially in historic centers, will have to be less impactful and increasingly sustainable. This marks another significant step forward for the tramways in Florence.”