30 million a year to shift 750.000 truck rides to rail freight
How much would it cost to load and unload cargo between trucks and trains? Transport federation Febetra and the Belgian Rail Freight Forum (BRFF), a federation of ten freight rail companies, debated about this for two years.
“Our proposal comes down to 40 euros given to a road transport company for each load it puts on a train, a sort of transport cheque,” says BRFF’s Paul Hegge. “Besides that, we want financial support to remove another threshold: the hefty initial investment. Like a reach stacker to put containers on trucks and trains, which easily costs 350.000 euros.
8% of truck road-pricing revenue
The proposed plan would cost 30 million euros a year over five years, about 8% of truck road-pricing revenues. On the other hand, it could generate a reduction in CO2 emissions and a 125-million-euro saving.
According to the initiators, the EU wouldn’t say no to the plans and the Belgian governments they talked to, would also have reacted positively. The question remains what future governments will do with the plans.
“If we want to tackle the mobility problem, we have to do it together,” confirms Geert Pauwels, CEO of rail freight company Lineas (formerly NMBS Logistics). Together with nine other rail freight companies, Lineas forms the Belgian Rail Freight Forum (BRFF).
“By 2040, freight will increase by 27%, and we will encounter a lot of problems before the Oosterweel link is completed. That’s why we have to work together,” he adds.
‘Infrabel is unsatisfactory’
The BRFF complains about the inflexible attitude of rail network administrator Infrabel. “The quality and coordination of works on the rail network are insufficient,” they say in a joint statement. “Especially compared to neighboring countries.”
The operators complain about rail networks that aren’t ready or poorly communicated, which confronts them to accomplished facts. This causes economic damage. “It is as if you would suddenly place traffic lights on the motorway and start roadworks on every important traffic vein.”
The BRFF wants Infrabel to respect the train planning and announce rail works a long time in advance and while coordinating with rail operators. “The government has to make it just as easy to transport by rail as it is by road,” says Pauwels.