Dutch railway network full, little space left for additional trains 26/10/18

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August 2018

The Dutch rail network, which spans over 7,300 kilometres, is as good as full, said infrastructure manager ProRail. And the room needed to build new lines is not there either, hence the only way to allow for more train traffic is to better utilise the existing network. And this is very much needed, as the requested capacity is increasing next year.

The number of freight trains scheduled for 2019 represents an increase of 8% compared to this year. ProRail expects that trains will travel a total of 165 million kilometres in 2.2 million trips on the Dutch rail network – a new record. In 2004, trains ran 129 million kilometres on the Dutch lines.

One way of optimising the existing network is by committing to innovations, such as the project Redesign of the International Timetabling Process (TTR). This is an initiative of European associations RailNetEurope (RNE) and Forum Train Europe, with the aim of harmonising the distribution of capacity on the European rail network and as such, optimising existing capacity.

According to ProRail, 96 per cent of scheduled freight trains eventually deviate from their scheduled place or time. A project as TTR will help ProRail to schedule freight trains more efficiently. Trains will be enabled to make unscheduled journeys more often, without the need of cumbersome timetable changes.

The Dutch rail network is also short of marshalling capacities, as there are several bottlenecks. Marshalling as a service, will be offered by ProRail in order to optimise existing marshalling yards, which will allow a better overview of the capacity distribution.

The increase in rail transport in the Netherlands is caused by higher volumes of both transit and inbound freight of foreign origin, Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reported earlier. 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 per cent in 2007 to 8 per cent in 2017. In the same period, the share of inbound transport went up from 22 to 25 per cent. 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.