Port of Antwerp rail link route agreed

Flanders and the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia have agreed a route for a rail link between the Port of Antwerp and the Ruhr. A cooperation agreement is in the pipeline and a tangible initiative is being taken to break the deadlock surrounding the rail link between the Port of Antwerp and the Ruhr.

The chronic deadlock surrounding the various alternative routes for this rail link was broken early this year with a study into the feasibility of the Rhine-Ruhr-Rail Link (3RX). This route runs from Antwerp via Mol and Hamont to Roermond and Venlo and continues on the German side from the Rhein – Ruhr region. The international study confirmed that the 3RX route produces cost-benefit results similar to those of the historical route, but at roughly half the cost.

“After a great deal of study efforts a consensus proposal has been reached at technical level. It is now time to start the political consultations”, says Flemish Minister for Mobility Ben Weyts. “We will ask the European Commission for funding, because this is definitely a promising European mobility project which will see trucks removed from the roads.”

Opening up access to the German Ruhr is vital to Flanders’ ports. The Port of Antwerp stated that forecasts predict a 50% increase in road freight traffic by 2030 however the already congested roads are not equipped to handle all this additional freight. Flemish Minister for Mobility Ben Weyts is pouring substantial investments in the alternatives to road transport, such as inland shipping and railway links. Minister Weyts is also keen to revive the longstanding dossier - the rail link between the Port of Antwerp and the Ruhr. 

Flanders and North Rhine-Westphalia are now working on a cooperation agreement for 3RX. The parties have agreed on the next step forward. Flanders and North Rhine-Westphalia are looking to set up tri-state consultations, in which the Belgian federal government, the Dutch government and the German federal government are involved as well. So far, discussions on 3RX have been held on a technical level between the administrations of the various countries. Getting the political consultations under way will enable decisions to be put in place in the near future, offering tangible prospects in this lingering dossier. 

“I want to take trucks off roads such as the E17, E19, E313 and E314 and transfer their freight to rail”, says Flemish Minister for Mobility Ben Weyts. “The implementation of the 3RX route is an encouraging European mobility project. As such, we will be asking the European Commission for financial support towards its accomplishment. Political consensus between all the governments involved is essential. I am therefore pleased that we are increasingly in agreement with our friends from North Rhine-Westphalia”. 

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