Jacques Vandermeiren, CEO of Antwerp Port Authority, said: “Mobility on the Flemish roads concerns all of us. Many people live with the idea that the port is the main source of congestion on our roads, but in reality the port is only one of the main users of the road network. The fact is that our region is a major economic crossroads between The Netherlands, northern France and the German Ruhr area. In the next few years work will start on various projects aimed at improving mobility in and around Antwerp, but additional infrastructure alone will not be enough.”
The rail projects receiving support have been selected based on a ‘Call for Proposals’ issued by the port authority at the start of the year. The goal was to ‘come up with new, more sustainable mobility solutions, or improvements to existing mobility solutions for handling the flow of maritime trade’.
Projects that were submitted were assessed using various criteria, including sustainability, reliability, price competitiveness and the strength of the business plan. Each successful project will have access to a maximum of 200,000 Euros spread over three years.
DP World’s ‘shift to rail’ project sees the terminal operator aiming to make improvement to existing rail services and attract new ones, including a new link between Antwerp and Stuttgart that will offer a sustainable transport alternative for the German car industry. DP World has targeted a 10 per cent rise in rail operations by 2020, and says this project will reduce the number of road-based car transporter trips by 50,000 a year.
Euroports Inland Terminals, part of the Euroports Group, will next month launch a direct rail link between Antwerp and the southern city of Liège (lle Moslin). The twice-weekly service is designed to offer a rail alternative to an area around Liège which is already well served by barge-transported freight. It’s estimated this will lead to 16,200 fewer truck trips annually.
The final rail project is from Slovak Shipping and Ports, a container terminal operator from Bratislava in Slovakia. In the second half of 2018 it will launch a combined train service, with a mixture of intermodal and conventional wagons, twice a week between Antwerp and Bratislava. Frequency will eventually be doubled. The operator estimates that by connecting the Belgian port more efficiently with the eastern Europe hinterland, the service will cut 6,000 truck trips a year.
Antwerp Port Authority said that in addition to this latest funding programme, the Flemish Government would also release a further 1.4 million Euros over the next few months for similar projects designed to deliver sustainable transport solutions around the port. Marc Van Peel, Port President, said: “A modal shift towards more sustainable methods of transport that place less burden our roads or even avoids them altogether is crucial for more efficient mobility, not only at present but also in the future. That’s why the port authority will be supporting private sector projects over the next few years that contribute to more efficient truck and other transport in and around the port.”