One step closer to a new terminal in the east of the Netherlands 19/12/22

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With the publication of the tender, an important step has been taken towards the realisation of Rail Terminal Gelderland, a new terminal in the Netherlands. Once realised, companies in Gelderland/East Netherlands can shift their goods from the road onto the Betuweroute, the freight-dedicated railway line to Germany. It has been a long-held wish from the industry, although it has been met with opposition from local residents.


The province is now looking for a party that is willing to take on both the construction and the operation of the terminal for a period of 45 years. Our sister publication Nieuwsblad Transport talked with Helga Witjes, deputy of the province of Gelderland in the field of Mobility, Economy and Innovation about the project.

What is still in the way of tendering?

“Local residents and the municipality of Overbetuwe have made objections to the decision to adopt the integration plan for the terminal due to possible nuisance. This procedure is still pending at the Council of State. We will not award contracts until the integration plan is final. The ruling of the Council of State will be in the spring and the tender is expected to be awarded in the third quarter of 2023. The chance of delay is therefore small.

This ruling is now the only thing that can stand in the way of the tender award in the third quarter of 2023. The Nature Conservation Act permit has been granted. When applying for that permit, we had to substantiate how much nitrogen emissions you cause and where. No negative effects are expected for both the construction phase and for all activities that will take place at the terminal afterwards.”

How many goods can you store at the terminal in the future?

“Everything except large bulk goods can be transhipped. The integration plan offers space for a maximum of 90,000 loading units per year. In the beginning it will probably be less. It is possible that the operator of the rail terminal will first work with reachstackers. This requires a lower investment than immediately installing electric taps. With reachstackers though, you can only reach one track instead of the three tracks that will be there soon. Thus, in the beginning we expect 30,000 loading units per year.

For up to 30,000 loading units, diesel-powered equipment will be permitted. In such a way, the option is there to make the larger investments later on, for example by buying electric cranes. We assume that the operator will be able to realise those 90,000 loading units within about ten years. We investigated how many load units were expected to be available from the surrounding area and weighed that against the cost.”

How much enthusiasm is there for the terminal?

“We organised a market consultation and had a market day, with sufficient interest from all kinds of parties. The terminal is beautifully situated on the A15 and on the Betuwe Route. And, we also facilitate inland shipping I know that a number of parties from Park15 Logistics, a business park in Arnhem, have settled there because they were interested. Also the Tile Group, a party that imports a lot of tiles from Italy, has indicated that it sees opportunities.”

“If you look at operators, there aren’t that many potential candidates in the Netherlands. There are five to six parties that can operate such a terminal. So far, we have mainly seen interest from these parties. It is quite specialist work and there are not that many rail terminals in the Netherlands. However, more parties can apply, such as parties that have only operated shipping terminals so far.”

Can such a party operate the terminal profitably?

“The location is very convenient. And you don’t have many options for the transhipment of goods on the railway. Most terminals are not located in a place that is only built for freight transport. Moreover, there is sufficient distance to Rotterdam to make the terminal attractive. And there’s enough hinterland in the east to make it cheaper to ship freight by rail. We are also part of several international corridors. From 2021 to at least 2025, cargo shippers can also receive a subsidy of twenty euros per container if they move them from road to rail or barge.”

Could the work on the third track in Germany hamper the work?

“We assume an operating period of 45 years. So you really have to look at that long-term and we think those who sign up have a good view of that as well. It is also expected to take until early 2026 before you can operate that terminal. In addition, trains are simply diverted in the event of work.”

Has the budget from the province been spent?

“We have already reserved the budget, which is more than 67 million euros. We reserve that for, among other things, the construction of the access road, the landscape integration and preparation for construction and the connection to the Betuwe Route. After that it is up to the operator. We do not assume that the operator will need an extra budget.”

An information meeting will be held in Arnhem on 11 January 2023 as part of the procedure. Interested market parties are welcome from 3:00 pm to 5:00 pm. During the meeting, an explanation is given of all documents that are part of the tender and are important for the tender and/or the concession. The meeting is therefore only accessible to interested market parties for the construction and operation.

This article was originally published by Nieuwsblad Transport.

Author: Nick Augusteijn