Rhine-Alpine News

Covid-19 Corridor News

Business support organizations offer advice in the Corona crisis. Among them is Logistics Valley, a triple helix organization and partner for the Province of Gelderland (around the city of Arnhem). It started a website to help the logistic sector: www.logisticsvalleyhelpt.nl (external link, Dutch language). Logistic companies and entrepreneurs can use the information on the website, free of charge.

Logistics Valley connects entrepreneurs, government and knowledge centers for powerful, sustainable and innovative logistics Gelderland. It is an initiative of the Province of Gelderland and consists of three logistic hotspots: Rivierenland, Liemers Achterhoek and Nijmegen. Municipalities, education and knowledge centers such as the University of Applied Sciences Arnhem and Nijmegen (HAN) and other universities and the East Netherlands Development Agency (Oost NL) are affiliated with Logistics Valley as well as dozens of transport and logistics companies.


While the Rhine-Alpine corridor has lots of rail passenger service, its diversity makes a specific update difficult. However, for the current European and worldwide rail passenger service restrictions, including the corridor, the British website of a train enthusiast “The man in seat 61” (external link) may give a good overview.


Reopening of Motorway Bridge across Ligurian mountains

Photo (Ports of Genoa): Ribbon cutting ceremony on 21 February.

A viaduct on the Italian A6 motorway, connecting the port of Vado Ligure with its northern hinterland, had collapsed on 24 November 2019, after being hit by an imposing landslide. Ligurian Ports these days sent out surprising news: The new motorway viaduct was already inaugurated in late February, after a construction period of only 70 days!

„Today marks the beginning of the mending of wounds opened by the calamities of the last few years. The record time in which the viaduct was restored, as well as the execution of the works for the new bridge for Genoa, bodes well for the future,“ says the President of Port System Authority, Paolo Emilio Signorini.


“Pallet’s Eleven”

Photo: Martin Brandt

Finally, some further good and even entertaining news: Last week, a candidate in Germany’s “Who wants to be a millionaire” TV scheme won the jackpot (one million Euros) with his answer to a question about the very basics of logistics: „The classic European norm pallet is made of 78 nails, nine cubes and how many boards?” The candidate thought it over and then got it right. Spoiler: The correct answer is hidden in the headline of this news.

Here is the report (external link, German language).

Rhine-Alpine News

Covid-19: Rhine-Alpine Corridor remains open

Symbolic photo (Martin Brandt): River cruise ships idle in Cologne

The world is disrupted by Covid-19. In central Europe, international passenger services have basically come to a halt, national and local services are being reduced. River cruises and sea cruises are cancelled, including the Rhine river cruises and sea cruises from the ports at the Rhine-Alpine corridor. People who still need to travel for essential reasons must inform themselves about the remaining possibilities, and all others stay home.


What about goods transport?

Goods transport is affected in multiple ways, but infrastructure and service providers fight to keep it going. While the ports keep fully operational, they do only essential services which are directly necessary for the handling of cargo. Here are statements from seaports along the corridor (external links):

Port of Rotterdam (Netherlands)

Port of Antwerp (Belgium)

Port of Genova (Italy)

Inland ports also remain open. See examples:

Duisport (Germany)

Port of Strasbourg (France)

Rail freight operation is largely operating according to plan. As an example, see the statement of intermodal operator Kombiverkehr.

In road transport, the situation along the corridor appears more complex. “At the moment, our main question along the Rhine-Alpine corridor is not so much getting across the border”, Andrea Marongiu, managing director of the Baden-Württemberg logistics association “VSL”, tells the editor of this newsletter. “The greatest problem of our members is that at the moment they all too often find the recipient businesses being closed upon arrival of the trucks, so the cargo cannot be delivered.”


Goods transport is crucial

Symbolic photo (Martin Brandt): River transport on the Rhine

“The transport sector has a crucial role to play in the supply of goods, in particular medicines, medical devices, food and other essential commodities needed to overcome this crisis. The transport sector also proves to be a vital instrument in these times where many European citizens are restricted in their mobility”, writes the European Federation of Inland Ports in a press release of 24 March, together with many other European associations representing transport, infrastructure managers, operators, workers in all transport modes and logistics, contractors, local and regional authorities, logistics service providers, shippers, users and equipment suppliers in the maritime, port, inland waterways, railways, road, cycling, aviation and intermodal sectors, as well as supporting industries and companies.

„The flow of goods remains essential in this critical period. As such, the free flow of goods across the EU must be guaranteed. Additionally, we must support and protect all those working in transport and logistics. Their contributions in overcoming this crisis are vital. In times of emergency, inland ports and inland waterways play an essential role in providing European citizens, health services and businesses with a consistent flow of goods in order to come through this crisis.”

Rhine-Alpine News

Evofenedex supports longer freight trains

Photo (Rob Dammers): Long freight train at Boppard / Rhine

Evofenedex, the association of Dutch international logistics operators, states about long freight trains: “Last year, the Dutch government and infra manager worked on making longer freight trains of a maximum of 740 meters on Dutch rail freight corridors possible. On the German side there was less enthusiasm for these trains. At the beginning of this year, a 740-meter-long train was stopped at the Venlo-Kaldenkirchen border crossing. evofenedex argues for the rapid deployment of these longer trains on all major European corridors. This makes the railways more attractive for shippers and production companies for the transportation of their goods. A decent amount of CO₂ can be saved and the congestion on the road can be reduced by using longer trains.”

Find the news here (external link, Dutch language).


Air freight: Protective masks sent to Italy via Rhine-Alpine corridor

Symbolic photo (Martin Brandt): Trucks at Gotthard route

The Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba donated 1.8 million face masks, of which the first 500,000 are intended for the Italian health service. The masks arrived at the Alibaba distribution center at Liège airport in Belgium by air from China, to be forwarded by truck, via the Rhine-Alpine corridor.

Trucks often deliver air cargo to and from the big air cargo hubs. Thus, air cargo often takes routes one would not easily expect, as in this example.

Read the news here (external link, French language).


Swiss ports: Cargo amounts rebounced in 2019

Photo (© Patrick Walde): Port of Switzerland, Basel-Kleinhüningen

In 2019, the cargo handled by the ports of Switzerland has grown significantly above the 2018 figures. In 2018, low water levels on the Rhine had hampered port throughput. The ports, which are in Basel and vicinity, reported a total amount of more than six million tons, one of the highest levels ever recorded. The increase from 2018 is 29%.

Read the detailed statistics here (external link, German language).

Rhine-Alpine News

Rhine-Neckar: Space available for future transport and logistics

Photo (Bernhard Kunz / Stadtmarketing Mannheim GmbH): Mannheim with port and logistics areas

Mannheim: A study for the metropolitan region Rhine-Neckar detailed the future demand for industrial areas until 2035. While generally the finding of sufficient space will be a challenge, enough land will be available for transport and logistics related business, which is a main sector in this metropolitan area within the Rhine-Alpine corridor. However, the study finds that the available land may not be in the central parts of the metropolitan region.

Find the study here (external link, German language).


Embankment collapse derailed TGV

Symbolic photo (cc, Nico67000): “TGV Duplex” at Strasbourg station

Strasbourg: On 5 March, a TGV high-speed train running from Colmar via Strasbourg to Paris derailed at full speed near Saverne, northwest of Strasbourg. Mud from a collapsed embankment had run across the rails. The double-deck TGV „Duplex“ was well occupied with more than 300 passengers, of which more than 20 got injured. The high-speed line across the Vosges Mountains has been in operation for less than five years. Its opening had been somewhat delayed by a serious accident near Strasbourg during the test phase in 2015. Its underlying causes appear unrelated to last week’s derailment.

Read the news here (external link).


New Basel area tracks will improve rail traffic

Symbolic photo (SBB): Basel main station

Basel: The main railway line from Basel towards the Lötschberg tunnel, on the Rhine-Alpine corridor to Italy, is being improved outside Basel: Tracks at Liesthal station are rearranged for better separation of regional trains and long distance trains. According to Swiss rail infrastructure operator SBB, work progress is according to plan (external link, German language).

In this context, work now started on a new bridge right outside Basel central station („Basel SBB”), also to allow a more fluent operation of both regional and long distance operations, including freight trains. 

Find the news here (external link, German language).

Rhine-Alpine News

Hydrogen for climate-neutral Rhine-Alpine Corridor


Photo: Eric Bakker, Port of Rotterdam

Arnhem: Seventeen parties have taken the first step towards a climate-neutral transport corridor between Rotterdam and Genoa. Organisations and companies have signed a declaration of intent in Arnhem for water, road and rail transport via the so-called Rhine-Alpine corridor to run on hydrogen. This initiative is known as RH₂INE (Rhine Hydrogen Integration Network of Excellence).

RH2INE will initially focus on realising production locations for hydrogen along the Rhine between Rotterdam and Cologne. This will enable the first ten to fifteen inland tankers to run on hydrogen in the coming years. RH₂INE currently comprises the following parties: the Province of South Holland, the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, the Netherlands’ Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, Province of Gelderland, Port of Rotterdam Authority, Duisburg Port Authority, RhineCargo, BCTN, EICB, Nouryon, Covestro, Air Products, Future Proof Shipping, HTS Group, NPRC, AirLiquide and Koedood.

Read the whole news here (external link).


Genova: Increased rail capacity at port

The rail connection between the Terminal and the Genoa Pra’ Mare shunting yard recently got a second track. Together with a new yard configuration, it will double the handling capacity. This is the first of the interventions envisaged by the “iron plan” for the port of Genoa, defined by the Port Authority and the Italian railway network.

Read more here (external link).


Germany: Electric autobahn traffic?

Photo (cc / Radosław Drożdżewski): Overhead test wire on Autobahn south of Frankfurt

Berlin: A study to the German federal government suggest an electrification of a core Autobahn network as a prime measure for the greening of freight transport. The renowned authors are the Öko-Institut, Hochschule Heilbronn, Fraunhofer-IAO and Intraplan Consult. They checked the potential cargo that could go by electric trucks, as well as the necessary investments, for each main segment of the Autobahn network as well as for combinations of segments.

The resulting recommended core network of 4000 km includes the routes along the Rhine-Alpine corridor. Electrification would then be an alternative for all freight with origination and destination less than 100 km from the electric Autobahn segments. The study describes its methodology by the example of A 61, to the left of the Rhine, within the Rhine-Alpine corridor. The overall evaluation is positive.

This may be one of the main studies for the upcoming debates in Germany. It is available here (external link, German language).

Rhine-Alpine News

Importance of inland navigation for Rheinland-Pfalz


Photo (© HeinzWörth): Port of Wörth

Mainz: The German state of Rheinland-Pfalz with its population of 4 million is located along central sections of Rhine and Mosel rivers. The state government’s ministry of transport outlined the importance of these inland waterways in its recent answer to a major interpellation (“Große Anfrage”) of its parliament.

With 22 million tons per year, waterway transport to and from the regional ports is twice as high as the German per capita average and significantly above the rail transport volume, which in Germany totals well above waterway transport. However, most of the transport volume is by road. The figures do not include transit traffic, which in the case of Rheinland-Pfalz is several times higher than inbound and outbound volumes.

The ministry of transport gave more details of the state’s waterway transport. This includes volumes handled by its larger ports, as well as data about shipping lines and tentative figures of transit volumes. Being an official parliamentary document, it is available in German only.

Download the full document here (external link).


Position of the European Federation of Inland Ports (EFIP) on the European Green Deal

Brussels: As Enablers of Green Logistics, inland ports have adopted a series of recommendations regarding the European Green Deal in EFIP’s Position Paper. It comes to the following conclusions:

  • Modal shift towards inland waterway transport and rail should be promoted and a true Single European Multimodal Area should be created.
  • A successor programme to NAIADES II is needed.
  • The importance of rail connections for inland ports should be recognised.
  • A European approach to adaptation to climate change is necessary to ensure that inland waterway transport will continue to be possible across Europe.
  • The completion of the Trans European Transport Network (TEN-T) is of paramount importance for progress in European transport.
  • Decarbonisation requires a clear and long-term strategy for sustainable and smart mobility with a technology-neutral roadmap that the entire logistics sector can follow.
  • The review of the Energy Taxation Directive should support the uptake of all sustainable clean fuels and energies by introducing a long-term tax exemption for those fuels.
  • Appropriate investments will be needed.

Read the full Position Paper here (external link).


Steps for Lower Rhine to become climate-neutral transport route

Photo: © portofrotterdam 

Rotterdam: E.ON, Port of Rotterdam Authority and DeltaPort Niederrheinhäfen are joining forces to create an infrastructure for climate-neutral transport routes. Freight and passenger ships with climate-neutral propulsion can exchange battery containers or refuel hydrogen in the ports. The aim is to enable climate-neutral goods transport between Rotterdam and the European hinterland by 2050.

The pilot concept will initially focus on the German inland DeltaPort location in Voerde and Wesel. Conditions in Wesel are ideal: aluminium producer Trimet generates residual heat from which E.ON can produce new energy. The infrastructure will be designed in such a way that not only ships, but also trains and trucks can refuel hydrogen or recharge their batteries in the port.

Read the press statement here (external link).

Rhine-Alpine News

Strasbourg: Strong increase in port activities

Photo (PAS / Bartosch Salmanski): Strasbourg Port

Turnover in Strasbourg port has significantly bounced back in 2019, after the 2018 low water handicap. Total tonnage was 7.6 million tons, an increase of 28.5 %. Container traffic increased to 381,565 TEU (+5.6 %), of which 76,768 were handled by barges (+16.4 %).

During 2019, the port also registered more than 1.600 cruise ship landings with more than 230,000 passengers.

Read the detailed figures in the press statement (external link, French language).


Dutch railways prepare for arrival of international trains

Utrecht: Austrian railway operator ÖBB has announced to start a night service between Vienna and Amsterdam. Deutsche Bahn is preparing for a new set of faster trains to operate between Berlin and Amsterdam. Dutch operator Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) confirmed to this newsletter that it thinks about offering traction for these trains. NS therefore looks into leasing locomotives that can operate in both the Netherlands and Germany. The night train services will need no more than two locomotives, but the request includes an option for another 15 engines that would allow handling the Berlin trains and or other services.


15 organizations from the transport Sector call for a bold and realistic European Green Deal


Photo (Port of Rotterdam / Kees Torn): Wind turbines at Maasvlakte

Brussels: The Communication on the European Green Deal sets very ambitious objectives for the EU and sends a strong message to the rest of the world regarding Europe’s ambition to reduce emissions by at least 50% by 2030 and to transform its economy to become carbon-neutral by 2050. The European supporting associations representing logistics service providers, seaport and inland port authorities, shippers, inland waterways, combined transport operators, rail freight operators, port operators and terminal operators, marine equipment manufacturers and shipyards welcome the Green Deal. They believe that it can be an opportunity for Europe, particularly if it enables EU industries to benefit from a “new growth strategy” that will boost their competitiveness while becoming more sustainable. Such an ambition should be achieved while preserving a level playing field with other regions of the world.

The joint press statement of 11 February 2020 especially elaborates:

  • Achieving a carbon neutral transport sector,
  • Unleashing the potential of multimodal transport to reduce GHG emissions,
  • Providing legal certainty to early movers,
  • Mobilizing funding for research and dissemination of innovative solutions,
  • Ensuring a neutral approach when supporting innovation.

Find the complete statement here (external link). 

First Announcement Rhine-Alpine Corridor Conference 2020

Rhine-Alpine News

Rheinland-Pfalz improves truck parking system

Photo (© Frey / Bildergalerie MWVLW): State Vice Minister of Transport Andy Becht started the system together with Steffen Bilger, Federal Vice Minister of Transport, and Arno Trauden, Managing Director of the State Agency for Mobility

Mainz: The Autobahn A 61 roughly runs parallel to the Rhine. It is a main freight line along the Rhine-Alpine corridor. Truck parking is an important issue on the 200 km which the A 61 runs across the German state of Rheinland-Pfalz. A new system digitally surveys twenty parking lots with more than 1,000 truck parking spaces. Truckers get information about available space in real time. This will ease congestion at parking lots.

Costs of the new system were 3.6 million Euros. They were paid by the German federal government with support from the European Union within the URSA MAJOR 2 project.

Find the news here (external link, German language).


Netherlands: Rotterdam port drives rail freight increase

Photo (pro rail): Freight train on Betuwe line

Rotterdam: In 2019, the number of kilometres run by freight trains in the Netherlands was up 5% against 2018. The main cause was rail traffic to and from Rotterdam port, which increased by 15% in the number of trains, and 13% in cargo volume. This means an average of about 15 additional freight trains per day to and from the port, both directions combined.

Find the news here (external link, Dutch language).


Lombardy rail news

Photo (Tuyra / Wikimedia): Fast trains at Milano Centrale station

Milan: The Rogoredo – Pavia main line, part of the rail link to Genova within the Rhine-Alpine corridor and located south of Milan, is to become a 4-track section: Approximately 29 km of two new tracks are going to be built in close proximity to the existing double track line. In August 2019, infrastructure operator RFI started the national Environment Impact Assessment procedure. The intervention has two construction phases: First from Milan Rogoredo to Pieve Emanuele, and then from Pieve Emanuele to Pavia. Work on the 1st phase is expected to start in 2021, and expected to end in June 2024. 

A new connection from Milan’s Malpensa airport to the Simplon line will complete the airport’s accessibility from the North. Approximately 5 km of double track will be put in place to reach the Gallarate node, plus another 1.1 km to connect with the Simplon line. The leader of the initiative is Lombardy’s regional rail operator Ferrovie Nord, which already runs the existing line between Malpensa airport and Cadorna station in downtown Milan.

In the early morning hours of 6 February, a Salerno-bound express train derailed on the high-speed line Milano-Bologna near Lodi, southeast of Milan, at full speed. Its derailed engine first hit a freight car that apparently belonged to a maintenance train. It then hit a building, killing two drivers and seriously injuring another two people. Traffic was re-routed via the parallel old main line. Read the news here (external link).

Rhine-Alpine News

Flemish government announces definitive preference for „Extra Container Capacity in Antwerp“

Photo (Port of Antwerp): Container handling in Antwerp port

The container volume handled by Port of Antwerp is growing year after year. It now represents a large share of the total freight volume. In 2019 the number of Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEU) rose by 6.8% to 11.86 million. Additional space is now required in order to cope with this growth.

In December last year the Flemish government announced a definite preference in the choice of alternatives for the complex project entitled „Extra Container Capacity in Antwerp.“ This preferred alternative includes among other things construction of a second tidal dock in the port of Antwerp. This goes along with various „inspansion“ projects, i.e. filling in existing docks to create additional space.

Find the news here (external link).


Karlsruhe-Basel: „Building Information Modeling (BIM)“

Karlsruhe: Deutsche Bahn issued a new special newsletter on information modeling along the Karlsruhe-Basel route’s construction projects. A video gives more and vivid explanation, putting together three-dimensional modelling and drone views along the route.

Find the newsletter and the video here (external links, German language).


Germany-Netherlands: Cooperation for better mobility

Photo (NRW / Rainer Unkel): Christophe van der Maat (Noord-Brabant), Hendrik Wüst (NRW), Floor Vermeulen (Zuid-Holland), Marjolijn Boot (Overijssel), Christianne van der Wal (Gelderland), Hubert Mackus (Limburg).

Aachen: The regional ministers of five Dutch provinces and the Minister of Transport of the German state of Nordrhein-Westfalen came together in Aachen for their yearly coordination meeting. Topics were: Cross-border rail traffic, the development of the Rhine-Alpine corridor e. g. between the port of Rotterdam and the Rhine-Ruhr region, as well as smart mobility.

“Only if we think mobility across borders, we can improve the offer for commuters within the region and for goods transport”, Minister Hendrik Wüst of Nordrhein-Westfalen stated. “This is why I am very happy that the cross-border cooperation works so well.”

In-depth press statements can be found here (external links):

State of Nordrhein-Westfalen (German language),

Province of Gelderland (Dutch language).