North Sea Port extends rail corridor to the Baltic


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

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.”

Rail Baltica seeks contractor for building longest railway bridge in the Baltic States


LTG Infra, the company responsible for the implementation of the Rail Baltica project in Lithuania, has launched the second stage of a tender, during which it will select a contractor for the railway bridge over the river Neris near Jonava. This will be the longest railway bridge in the Baltic States, spanning more than 1.5 kilometres.

“The railway bridge over the river Neris will be the most technically complex engineering construction of the Rail Baltica railway project. This will be the longest bridge not only in Lithuania, but also all of the Baltic States. Another engineering challenge is that there will not be a single support in the water, and so the selected construction contractor will face a serious challenge in this task,” LTG Infra CEO Karolis Sankovski says.

He noted that this tender, just as other works and future tenders for the Rail Baltica project, could become a serious “cushion” for the Lithuanian economy in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In total, the new bridge would reach a length of 1,510 metres. So far, the longest bridge in Lithuania spans the river Dubysa near Lyduvėnai, reaching a length of 599 metres, while the longest bridge for car traffic spans the Nemunas river near Jurbarkas, reaching a length of 494 metres.

The longest span on the bridge between supports at the location it will cross the river will reach 150 metres.

Based on the contract, the contractor winning the tender will have to not only construct the bridge but also perform landscape modifications, install noise suppressing barriers, reconstruct nearby water delivery and other engineering networks, and reconstruct drainage systems.

The new bridge will be a part of a completely new 1,435 mm width gauge railway stretch for Rail Baltica between Kaunas and the Lithuanian-Latvian border.

Rail Baltica is the largest railway infrastructure project in the Baltic States’ history. Through its implementation, across the entire length of the Rail Baltica route, an electrified European standard gauge two-way railway line will be laid down, spanning from Warsaw through Kaunas to Riga and Tallinn.

The combined length of the Rail Baltica railway line in the Baltic States will reach 870 km: 392 km in Lithuania, 265 km in Latvia and 213 km in Estonia.

The project’s constructions, which are planned to be valued at around 5.8 billion euro, are the largest investment aimed at improving mobility and travel opportunities, developing business, tourism and goods exchanges in the region.

The world’s first hydrogen fuel cell passenger train takes its first steps abroad after commercial success in Germany


Photographer: R.Frempe

Alstom has performed ten days of tests of the Coradia iLint hydrogen fuel cell train on the 65 kilometres of line between Groningen and Leeuwarden in the north of the Netherlands. The tests follow 18 successful months of passenger service on the Buxtehude–Bremervörde–Bremerhaven–Cuxhaven line in Germany, where total of 41 Coradia iLint have already been ordered. The latest tests make the Netherlands the second country in Europe where the train has proven itself a unique emissions-free solution for non-electrified lines.

Last October, Alstom and the Province of Groningen, local operator Arriva, the Dutch railway infrastructure manager ProRail and the energy company Engie signed a pilot project agreement to test the Coradia iLint, the world’s first passenger train powered by hydrogen fuel cells, in the Netherlands. DEKRA, an independent testing inspection and certification company, has been appointed test leader. This series of tests is being performed at night at up to 140 km/h without passengers. For the purpose of the tests, a mobile filling station has been erected by Engie for refuelling the Coradia iLint with completely green – sustainably produced – hydrogen.

“The tests in the Netherlands demonstrate how our hydrogen train is mature in terms of availability and reliability, providing the same performance as traditional regional trains, but with the benefit of low noise and zero emissions. It is also easy to integrate in an existing fleet and is compliant with all safety regulations. The Coradia iLint hydrogen train is a reliable emission-free train ready to help transport us to a carbon-neutral Europe,” said Bernard Belvaux, Managing Director, Alstom Benelux.

The Coradia iLint is the world’s first regional passenger train to enter service equipped with fuel cells to convert hydrogen and oxygen into electricity, thus eliminating pollutant emissions related to propulsion. The completely train is quiet, and its only emission is water. Purpose-built for use on non-electrified lines, it provides clean, sustainable traction with no sacrifice in performance. It has a range of approximately 1000 kilometres – the same as equivalent-size diesel multiple units. The train is developed and produced by the Alstom teams in Salzgitter, Germany and Tarbes, France.

The Dutch railway network has approximatively 1,000 kilometres of non-electrified line on which around 100 diesel trains currently operate daily.




St. Pancras International has been ranked first place in the Consumer Choice Center “European Railway Station Index 2020.”

The station was commended for its low number of strike days, high passenger convenience, and international connectivity, making it the only UK station inside the top 10.

St Pancras is not just home to the UK’s high-speed rail connections, it is a destination in its own right, offering dining and retail experiences, as well as free-to-play pianos. The station was recently named the 9th most used station in Great Britain and received a passenger satisfaction score of 96% – making it the top-performing station in the UK.

Rail’s priorities for the European Green Deal

Summer Cocktail Web-000

The EU and its Member States should implement a number of policy measures to set transport on a path to full decarbonisation by 2050, with a modal shift to rail, effective tools to implement ‘user pays’ and ‘polluter pays’ principles and proper funding for clean mobility. European railways are therefore proposing priority measures for the upcoming European Green Deal.

European railways are calling on the European Commission, Parliament and Member States to agree on a strong European Green Deal, one that will help to progressively reduce to net-zero the greenhouse gas emissions from transport and from the wider economy by 2050 at the latest. As the existing green mode of motorised transport – thanks to very low externalities, high degrees of electrification and increasingly zero-carbon operation – they can greatly help greening transport. The European Green Deal should support their contribution.

Overarching policies: With the European Green Deal, the EU and Member States should set ambitious, but realistic milestones 2030/40/50 for decarbonising EU transport. A shift to rail should be supported, for rail freight with an action plan of EU and national measures, for passengers with support for a shift to rail particularly in the case of cross-border travel up to 1000 km. Marginal social-cost pricing should be promoted in transport, i.e. implement the principles of ‘polluter pays’ and ‘user pays’.

Financing and funding: It is important to significantly increase the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) budget for transport. Besides developing rail infrastructure, investment is specifically required for electrifying further rail tracks, further digitalising railways and further reducing rail freight noise. Robust funding should be provided for railway research and innovation. A scale-up of private investment in rail projects should be facilitated.

A level playing field for rail: To allow rail to compete with other transport modes on an equal footing, the European Green Deal should help implement robust carbon pricing for transport across the EU. Specifically, it should allow taxing energy used in international aviation or maritime shipping and end subsidies for flying. Moreover, it should make road charging more comprehensive.

Other priority policies for the European Green Deal include promoting low-emission transport in Erasmus+ programmes, improving cross-border interoperability by swiftly implementing the TEN-T-Regulation, increasing interconnectivity between rail and road and mainstreaming the European Green Deal across all EU policies, to boost the energy transition and develop sustainable cities.

As additional policies, the EU and respectively Member States should temporarily waive part of rail track access charges, reduce the customs guarantee burden for rail freight, promote sustainable tourism and improve transport eco-labelling to help travellers and shippers to make well-informed choices.

European railways are a key to EU transport decarbonisation and asking the EU to help them maximise their contribution. In return, they will further improve their energy efficiency, further reduce their specific CO2 emissions, further improve their processes and operational efficiency, further innovate rail services and products, and closely cooperate with other modes of transport to further develop Mobility as a Service (MaaS).

The items above are explained in detail, and many of them supported by concrete figures, in CER’s position paper “Rail’s priorities for the European Green Deal” published here today.

CER Executive Director Libor Lochman commented: “European railways warmly welcome the plan of the incoming European Commission for a European Green Deal to support the EU’s transition to a net-zero carbon economy by 2050. As the existing green mode of motorised transport, rail can make a key contribution to this transition with a modal shift to clean transport. They are today making concrete proposals on how the Deal can support their contribution. CER stands ready to engage with policymakers to help the European Green Deal deliver clean mobility for all.

DHL ramps up its rail network and service along the new silk road


Located in Le Havre, France, Felixstowe, UK and Genoa, Italy, the local Rail Centers are staffed with China Rail Experts who advise customers and efficiently coordinate freight volumes.

Three new European Rail Competence Centers in France, Italy, and the UK provide customer service and freight handling between Europe and Asia.

  • Three new European Rail Competence Centers in France, Italy, and the UK provide customer service and freight handling between Europe and Asia
  • DHL Global Forwarding launches fastest freight rail service between China and Germany

Bonn – In response to growing demand for rail freight services between Europe and Asia, DHL Global Forwarding, the air and ocean freight specialist of Deutsche Post DHL Group, has opened three additional Rail Competence Centers in Europe and is introducing the fastest rail freight connection between China and Germany. Located in Le Havre, France, Felixstowe, UK and Genoa, Italy, the local Rail Centers are staffed with China Rail Experts who advise customers and efficiently coordinate freight volumes. The new rail service, operating between Xi’an in China and Hamburg and Neuss in Germany, has been set up in cooperation with Xi’an International Inland Port Investment & Development Group Co. Ltd. and is cutting transit time from 17 days to between 10 and 12 days.

“We’ve seen a substantial increase in rail freight volumes along the ‘New Silk Road’ from China to Europe and vice versa,” states Thomas Kowitzki, Head of China Rail, Multimodal Europe, DHL Global Forwarding. “Rail freight products are attractive due to their cost-effectiveness, short transit time, and lower CO2 emissions compared to other transport modes. Moreover, they require the real operational expertise that we bring to the table. We are happy to further expand our European Rail presence with a focus on rail transport in the DHL network. With our growing number of dedicated Country Rail Competence Centers and cutting-edge rail services we are offering the right portfolio of transport expertise and solutions for our customers while their business between Europe and Asia continues to grow.”

Customer service and freight handling through dedicated local teams

The Rail Competence Centers already coordinate significant volumes of export and import flows, including less-than-container-load (LCL) DHL RailConnect and full-container-load (FCL) DHL RailLine products. In addition to freight handling, dedicated teams offer comprehensive customer service. They coordinate end-to-end transport processes from collection and export all the way to customs clearance and delivery by truck or combined rail transport to the final destination. Customers benefit from shipment tracking, including temperature information upon request. Following the four Regional Rail Competence Centers in China and a European DHL Rail Competence Center in Poland, the first dedicated Country DHL Rail Competence Center was opened in Stuttgart, Germany in 2017.

Cutting-edge transit time of 10 and 12 days

Starting in Xi’an, at the heart of the New Silk Road economic belt, the new rail service takes an approximate 9,400 km route through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, and Lithuania to Kaliningrad Oblast, a part of the Russian Federation on the south coast of the Baltic Sea, before entering the European Union via the Mamonovo-Braniewo crossing. The final stretch of the route crosses Poland into Germany to the port city of Hamburg, and to Neuss, an important logistics hub on the Rhine River opposite Düsseldorf. This also shortens transit times for customers to other European countries e.g. Benelux, France and UK. Traversing numerous countries, the fastest rail service between China and Germany was created with the support of China Railway, Belintertrans, RTSB Gmbh, and UTLC – Eurasian Rail Alliance.

The fast Xi’an-Germany rail connection will offer customers real-time milestone visibility, using GPS tracking of shipments via the iSee software platform to give shippers door-to-door visibility and insight into any shipping exceptions as soon as they occur.

With the expansion of its intermodal network and expertise, DHL Global Forwarding emphazises the core of Deutsche Post DHL Group’s recently presented new corporate “Strategy 2025 – Delivering excellence in a digital world”. The Group’s purpose remains to connect people and improve their lives by enabling trade and helping businesses to grow.

Pöyry awarded engineering services assignment by SBB for design and execution of Zurich Wipkingen railway infrastructure in Switzerland


Swiss Federal Railway (SBB) has awarded Pöyry as part of the engineering consortium ‘Wiki’, with the engineering services assignment for the design and execution of the railway infrastructure of Zurich Wipkingen in Switzerland. The assignment includes the maintenance of the railway infrastructure including bridges, viaducts, a tunnel, tracks and the station.

As the Swiss federal carrier of the national railway system, SBB transports over 1.26 million people and 210 000 tons of goods to their destination. In the wider Zurich area, four out of the ten most frequented railway stations of Switzerland are located. The railway infrastructure of Zurich Wipkingen is part of the highly frequented intercity railway network. The existing, partly historical and listed railway infrastructure from the beginnings of the railway age is to be preserved and its service life to be extended.

“With Pöyry’s experience in transport infrastructure projects in over 50 countries, we are pleased to bring in our cross-disciplinary expertise and contribute to the success of this complex major inner-city project,” says Martin Bachmann, Head of Pöyry’s Civil Department in Switzerland.

Akiem and Bombardier sign contracts to supply a total of 33 TRAXX locomotives

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  • Orders include TRAXX AC3, DC3 and MS2 locomotives
  • Designed for operation under Europe’s main voltages, the locomotives offer Akiem and its customers more flexibility and efficiency

Rolling stock leasing company Akiem and mobility technology leader Bombardier Transportation have signed two contracts under frame contracts to deliver a total of 33 BOMBARDIER TRAXX locomotives. Based on their list price, the two firm orders are valued at a combined total of €112 million ($128 million US). Scheduled for delivery between 2019 and 2021 at the latest, the 33 TRAXXlocomotives will consist of a mix of TRAXX MS 2 (multi-system), TRAXX AC 3 (alternating current) and TRAXX DC3 (direct current) locomotives.

Fabien Rochefort, CEO of Akiem Group, said, “This additional batch of 33 TRAXX locomotives meets our customers’ demand across Europe. With a fleet of 180 TRAXX by 2020, we are strengthening our ability to deliver reliable, efficient, safe and cost-effective traction services expected by both passenger and freight operators. This fruitful partnership with Bombardier Transportation enables Akiem Group industrial teams to design and deliver tailor-made services and maintenance solutions across Europe. We are making our Group a major long-term, reliable partner and added value provider for the railway transport industry in Europe.”

Peter Ammann, Head of Ecosystem Freight Corridors, Bombardier Transportation, added, “We are very pleased to have received these additional locomotive orders from Akiem, further strengthening our partnership with this important customer. We introduced our versatile TRAXX locomotives platform 18 years ago and since then have continuously innovated and improved its features. With over 2,200 units sold, the platform has demonstrated its success. With these recent orders, Akiem will own a fleet of 180 TRAXX locomotives; the customer continues to benefit from this mixture of performance, experience and permanent evolution.”

The BOMBARDIER TRAXX 3 platform is the most modern four-axle locomotive platform in Europe. Its three models, TRAXXAC3, TRAXX MS3 and TRAXX DC3, all offer optional Last Mile function, a support diesel engine which bridges non-electrified sections.

The TRAXX MS locomotive plays a crucial role in the development of economies in Europe. Designed to operate on Europe’s four main rail supply voltages – 15 kV and 25 kV AC as well as 1.5 and 3 kV DC – it offers the necessary flexibility and interoperability to manage international rail transport across the continent.

Increase in international rail freight transport – Statistics Netherlands (CBS)


In 2017, more than 41 million tonnes of goods in total were transported by rail from, to and within the Netherlands. Over 93 percent of this volume was loaded and/or unloaded abroad. This means that the share of international transport has increased further. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this based on newly released figures.

Between 2007 and 2017, total rail freight transport rose by 0.5 million tonnes to 41.2 million tonnes. This is an increase of 1.2 percent, which can be attributed to the growth of international goods transport (from 35 to 38 million tonnes). In the same period, domestic rail freight transport dropped from over 5.5 million tonnes in 2007 to more than 2.7 million tonnes in 2017. The share of international rail freight transport increased from 86 to 93 percent over the same period.

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Shift in rail transport flows

The increase in rail transport is caused by higher volumes of both transit and inbound freight of foreign origin. Transit goods are transported by rail within the Netherlands but have their place of loading and unloading abroad. The share of transit trade doubled from 4 percent in 2007 to 8 percent in 2017. In the same period, the share of inbound transport went up from 22 to 25 percent. The total volume of goods transported from the Netherlands to other countries has hardly changed; from 24.7 million tonnes in 2007 to 24.9 million tonnes last year.

Germany main transport partner

The largest trading partner in terms of both inbound and outbound rail freight transport is Germany. Over 74 percent of outgoing freight is destined for Germany and 49 percent of incoming goods are loaded there. This share has also increased over the past decade. Italy, Belgium, Austria and Poland follow at a great distance. Poland has become increasingly important with regard to inbound rail freight transport; the share of goods loaded in this country rose from over 1 percent in 2007 to 6 percent in 2017. There are mainly incoming shipments of container goods and grain from Poland.