North-South Europe fresh produce train may start trial in late 2024 09/04/24

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A new rail freight route carrying fresh produce will start a pilot in late 2024. On a weekly basis, a train will make a return trip between Oslo and Valencia. The train will save time and emissions, but faces bureaucratic hurdles.


Frederik Zevenbergen, a representative of the Dutch province of Zuid-Holland, presented the plan at the Connecting Europe Days in Brussels. The fresh produce train will make a weekly return trip between Oslo and Valencia.

A pilot for the route may start in late 2024. It would be the first fresh produce train connecting northern and southern Europe. It will carry around 42 containers with fresh products.

The train will stop at various locations along the route. Rotterdam would be its main intermediate stop, as the port of Rotterdam imports many agricultural products. The city’s surrounding areas also host a lot of horticultural business.

At the moment, most agricultural products entering the port of Rotterdam are transported further by road. According to the Dutch province Zuid-Holland, road transportation of goods between Oslo and Valencia takes one hundred hours. Trains can reduce the duration of the trip to seventy hours. It would also save up to 90 per cent of carbon dioxide emissions.

Bureaucratic hurdles

In order to make the route a reality, many “bureaucratic hurdles” must be overcome. According to Zevenbergen, it is crucial to create space on the busy European railway network. “There should also be agreements about prioritisation,” he said. “If schedules change, are you going to let a fresh produce train wait for another train to pass? We also need more uniform fares. Currently, each country has its own rules. The ultimate goal is that we are going to have a train that doesn’t end up on the side tracks and is therefore faster and cheaper than road transport.”


Author: Dennis van der Laan