Belgium and Europe: doubling rail freight volume by 2050
Gathered at the Athus Container Terminal (TCA), European Commissioner in charge of Transports, Adina Vãlean, and Belgian Mobility Minister, Georges Gilkinet (Ecolo), have reiterated their common ambition to make rail freight grow. The objective is to increase volume by 50% by 2030 and make it double by 2050.
Europe and Belgium will have to bring the cost of rail freight as close as possible to that of road freight with investments and incentives. In Belgium, rail transports only 10% of all freight, compared to an EU average of 18%.
Double by 2050
The Belgian Rail Freight Forum, a coalition of rail transport companies in Belgium, calls on the authorities to help with the investment needed to grow the volume and reach ambitious objectives.
At the moment, the cost of road freight is very low in Belgium, and rail doesn’t become competitive before 300 km or more. And that is for fully loaded trains, which add up to 50 lorries.
“Companies won’t move for climate reasons. Handling costs are high on the rail, and at the moment, only distance can absorb them. Furthermore, flexibility is an issue. Which is why authorities need to incite transporters to use the rail”, explains Paul Hegge, Belgian Rail Freight Forum representative, to L’Avenir.
55 000 containers per year
The European and Belgian officials haven’t chosen the Athus Container Terminal (TCA) for nothing. Located on the Belgian border with France and Luxemburg, it’s the largest rail port of Belgium, transporting 55 000 containers a year.
250 km from the North Sea ports, TCA is set to complete construction of the direct connection with the French rail network in August. Mobility Minister Gilkinet adds that the 365 million euros from Europe will also help enhance the Belgian rail infrastructure, including the connection of Athus to the Antwerp Port and the Meuse river.