Five years ago, with much ado, the so-called ‘beer train’ was launched, a train between the AB InBev brewery in Jupille, Liège, and the distribution center of the supermarket chain Delhaize in Ninove, East Flanders.
That train was supposed to take 5 000 trucks a year off the road. Now it turns out that it never actually ran in the end, apart from a single test run. This is because the project proved unfeasible, says Delhaize. The news came to light through a question about it recently in the Chamber to Mobility Minister Georges Gilkinet (Ecolo).
More expensive than expected
Delhaize spokesperson Roel Dekelver confirmed to the press agency Belga that the project was quietly buried. “It was launched in 2017 as a pilot project, but we had to conclude after tests and analyses that the cost price of transport was not in proportion to the added value,” the spokesperson says. Train transport proved more expensive than transport by truck, and it was also less flexible.
At the time, the train was festively inaugurated in the presence of the initiators, rail freight operator Lineas, and the province of East Flanders, among others. Then Flemish Mobility Minister Ben Weyts (N-VA) baptized the train with a magnum bottle of Jupiler. It was supposed to run three trains a week.
The spokesperson stressed that Delhaize is pursuing other solutions for more environmentally friendly delivery, such as using log or hybrid trucks. A test is also underway with electric trucks, which transport fruit and vegetables from Bakker Belgium (part of Greenyard) in Boom to the Delhaize distribution center in Zellik.
The NMBS/SNCB’s new management contract states that freight transported by rail must double within ten years – a missed opportunity, thus.
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