A lot of money needed for tracks which fit 740m trains 22/04/22

< Back to list

Source: Railgood



RailGood sent a letter to the Permanent Parliamentary Committee on Infrastructure and Water Management of the Dutch Parliament on 22 April 2022, calling on the Dutch cabinet to quickly make more investment budget available to upgrade the Dutch railway network for 740-metre train length.

The Rutte IV cabinet has now ruled for more than 100 days. Rail freight carriers and intermodal operators are curious when the first concrete actions will become visible. In addition to the rail freight infrastructure in order, sufficient capacity for freight transport during the construction works on the third track between Emmerich and Oberhausen (ABS 46/2, the German connection to the Betuweroute), a business economically sound implementation of ERTMS in rail freight transport in the Netherlands and the much-needed, but far from being realized, level playing field with infrastructure charges, there is yet another top theme that now requires a real political sense of urgency. Namely facilitating 740 meters of train length on the Dutch railway infrastructure. This has been discussed since 1996. Europe prescribed it in 2013. Realizing this in the Netherlands is worse than slow. The Netherlands risks missing the train and will therefore miss opportunities to make transport more sustainable, as agreed in the EU Green Deal, which really benefits the climate and the environment.

With this letter, the entrepreneurs on the railways call on the Permanent Committee of Infrastructure and Water Management of Parliament to urge the Dutch cabinet to make available quickly and (substantially) more budget for investments in upgrading the railway infrastructure in the Netherlands in order to ( 1) to transport more and more efficiently cargo, especially in containers and trailers, by rail, (2) to make better use of the existing railway capacity and (3) to comply with the EU railway infrastructure regulation for 740 meters train length. There is no less than half a billion euros short of this until 2030. RailGood recently learned this from ProRail (after almost four years of research).

Over the past 10 years, a lot of taxpayers' money has been spent on public transport in the Netherlands, including the High-Frequency Rail Program and the availability fees during the Corona-pandemic. ERTMS is being rolled out on the mixed-use railway network for more than €2.5 billion in the first tranche until 2031, which unfortunately has still not been harmonized at European level, not even with Germany and Belgium. The Dutch ERTMS roll-out on parts of the mixed-use railway network threatens to burden rail freight transport in the Netherlands with an unprofitable top of around 200 million euros. This while the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management and rail infra manager ProRail are collecting savings and the public transport sector is 100% compensated for the extra costs. The government related system within the Dutch railway sector takes good care of each other.

At the same time, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management (and now also Dutch Cabinet Rutte IV) has 'forgotten' that there are also European TEN-T regulations that the Netherlands must comply with for its railway infrastructure by 2030 at the latest on the most important hinterland railways, including railway yards and crossing and buffer tracks.
Being able to handle 740 meters of train length on the infrastructure is a very, if not the most, crucial European regulation for the trans-European transport network (TEN-T). Due to the worse than slow approach, the Netherlands is in danger of not being able to comply with this EU regulation for the TEN-T network, as laid down in a EU Regulation 1315/2013 from 2013 and currently under revision. Nor the need of entrepreneurs on the railways to serve the goods transport market more efficiently and to transport more containers, trailers, and general cargo by train and in a train path. To enable efficient cross-border transport in Europe, transport connections in Europe must meet these TEN-T requirements and be harmonized (the Single European Railway Area). With the current revision of EU Regulation 1315/2013, there is now an acceleration to 2040 for the extended core TEN-T network in preparation.

In Germany it was already calculated five years ago that the benefit/cost ratio of infrastructure measures for 740-meter train length is very advantageous. In the German calculations, the social benefits are 4.8 times higher than the costs.

At the same time, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management and its rail infra manager ProRail make too little use of European co-financing for rail projects, especially the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF).

So, what are we waiting for in the Netherlands? It is high time to show decisiveness. Otherwise, all the fine words on paper in the Dutch coalition agreement (stimulating the shift of freight transport from road to rail) and the EU Green Deal will remain a mirage. The Netherlands should not miss this train!