Rhine-Alpine News

EGTC Rhine-Alpine in Cologne:
10th General Assembly and 4th Advisory Board Meeting

Photo (Martin Brandt): This year’s meeting was hosted at Cologne, a main transport node at the Rhine-Alpine Corridor.

The EGTC Rhine-Alpine held its regular General Assembly and Advisory Board Meetings on 8 November 2019 in Cologne.

The Metropolitan Region Rheinland, an association of cities, counties and regional chambers, as the youngest member of the EGTC, was hosting the meeting. Henriette Reker, Chair of the Metropolitan Region and Mayor of the City of Cologne, welcomed the participants by video message.

The Advisory Board, gathering interested stakeholders from economy and research, discussed the currently developed Action Plan structured in five focus topics, i.e. Cross-border Issues, Resilience of the Corridor, Green Corridor, Smart Mobility/Digitalisation and Noise Reduction.

Furthermore, external speakers presented their view on corridor related issues.     

Thus, the Advisory Board welcomed Łukasz Wojtas, Policy Advisor of the Corridor Coordinator (European Commission, DG Move), who elaborated upon “The Rhine-Alpine Corridor in the overall context of the evolving TEN-T policy”.

Illustration: TEN-T corridors across Europe, including the Rhine-Alpine corridor (orange colour).

Mr. Wojtas pointed out that the EU transport corridors were developed by analysing the main urban areas in Europe as sources and sinks of traffic, and by studying the connections between them. Since the definition of the corridors, the main development priorities are:

  • Removal of critical bottlenecks,
  • Technical compliance,
  • Pursuing multimodality,
  • Finding innovative solutions,
  • Reducing external effects.

Current evaluation focuses on network planning, infrastructure, interrelation between infrastructure and its use, and implementation instruments.

Mathias Niedermaier and Markus Nollert of ETH Zürich presented the Corridor Study “New insights and challenges for action on the Rhine-Alpine Corridor Rail Network” commissioned by the EGTC.

Illustration (Niedermaier/Nollert): Findings of the study.

The study looked for data on bottlenecks and infrastructure projects. It then verified the findings in meetings with regional stakeholders, discussing the importance of the various thematic fields. The study gives an overview on today’s infrastructure as well as on traffic demand and traffic relations.

The authors advocate political targets for a desired level of infrastructure, as is done in Switzerland. Given the time range of planning, building and finally utilizing the infrastructure, they find it counterproductive to build the investment targets upon the various and changing projections of today, as usually done. The study will be debated among the EGTC in the coming months.

Upcoming newsletters will further present two other interesting presentations:

“Update on Rail Freight Corridor Rhine-Alpine activities with focus on transport market study and performance management”, by Dr. Christiane Warnecke, Managing Director of Rail Freight Corridor Rhine-Alpine EEIG.

“Results of the EGTC-led CEF Project ‘RAISE-IT – Rhine-Alpine Integrated and Seamless Travel Chain”.

With Dr. Thomas Ertel there now is a communication manager for the updated communication strategy. There is an active LinkedIn account, plus this weekly newsletter.

On 19 June 2020, the 2nd Corridor Conference will take place in Strasbourg, also commemorating the 5th anniversary of the founding of the EGTC.

Christianne van der Wal

Christianne van der Wal is the New Chair of the EGTC

The EGTC Assembly elected unanimously Chrsitianne van der Wal as new Chair of the EGTC in its 10th meeting on 8 November 2019 in Cologne.

She is the Regional minister for transport, economics and European affairs in the Province of Gelderland in the Netherlands. The new Chair is enthusiastic for collaborating with the Rhine-Alpine community and make her contribution to the development of this important Corridor!

Rhine-Alpine News

RAlpin: Concept study to increase Freiburg – Novara capacity

Photo: RAlpin

The RAlpin’s Rolling Highway transports more than 100,000 trucks every year, thus making an important contribution to shifting traffic from road to rail. The Freiburg – Novara relation takes 10 hours to complete the 414 km trip. It offers space for up to 22 trucks and each week provides 60 services in each direction.

In a recent issue, the Swiss-based “Internationale Eisenbahn-Revue” reported a concept to increase the service’s capacity. RAlpin has confirmed the details to the editor of this newsletter but points out that so far this is just a design study. However, its main characteristics are:

  • Longer trains (750m), each with several fixed strings of special wagons, designed to eliminate the empty space between the trucks. Each new train could handle up to 37 trucks instead of the current 22. This would result in a capacity increase of up to 68 % while running the same number of trains.
  • Heading the trains with two locomotives and permanently keeping the two coach wagons for the truck drivers between the locomotives. This reduces both the shunting moves and the train weight behind the second locomotive.

General information about RAlpin can be found here (external link)


Karlsruhe: Renovation of Road Bridge across Rhine to be finalized

Photo: David Dreher (creative commons)

Karlsruhe in the German state of Baden-Württemberg and Wörth in the neighbouring Rhineland-Palatinate are joined by a six-lane road bridge of 1966. The bridge is currently undergoing extensive repair to allow for several more decades of use.

During several weekends in summer and recently in October, the bridge was closed for all traffic. Since it is the only road bridge across the Rhine near Karlsruhe, this put strain on ferries, neighbouring bridges, as well as on motorists and on passenger services on the parallel rail bridge. From now on, there will be no more full closures in the context of this renovation, while quite some final work will reduce the number of lanes on the bridge roughly until the end of 2019.

Details can be found here (external link, German language)


Ligurian ports: New Breakwater for Vado Ligure

Photo (Ligurian Ports): Vado Ligure terminal under construction

With the construction of the new terminal progressing (see photo; Vado Ligure is located west of Genova), the port authority has issued a tender for a new breakwater. The tender (closed on October 30) is awarded based on criteria that mostly reward the qualitative elements (85% of the score available) compared to those of the most economic offer (15% of the score).

The starting price is 77 million 890 thousand euros, including 627 thousand euros for design costs and just over one million euros for security charges. It is planned to dismantle about 400 meters of the current pier and to re-use the 13 boxes removed in the new dam, in addition to laying two new boxes. The new breakwater pier, turned towards the open sea to improve the maneuverability of the ships, will reach into greater depths, from 35 to 49 meters. In the final configuration, the breakwater of first phase will be stretched towards the sea for another 240 meters.

Rhine-Alpine News

European Federation of Inland Ports (EFIP) celebrates its 25th Anniversary in Strasbourg

On 23 October 2019, EFIP members gathered in Strasbourg (France) for their annual Executive Committee meeting and to celebrate the 25th anniversary of EFIP. The event was hosted by the Port of Strasbourg and the CCNR (Central Commission for the Navigation of the Rhine).

On the 25th anniversary, Mr Friedrich Lehr, EFIP President, remarked that “as enablers of green logistics, inland ports are able to support the goal of a climate neutral economy by 2050.” EPP Transport Coordinator Marian-Jean Marinescu underlined that “to increase the modal share of inland waterway transport and rail, inland ports are indispensable hubs that need to be supported in order to address all the transport challenges we have.” Pawel Wojciechowski as TEN-T Coordinator pointed out that “inland ports connect European logistics across the TEN-T Corridors. As multimodal hubs, they have been important in the European transport network. That is why EFIP’s presence in Brussels has been essential for 25 years and I hope it continues.”

Read the news here (external link)


Duisburger Hafen AG to receive the largest hinterland terminal in Europe, expanding its leading position in China trains

Logistics follows coal. The largest container terminal in the European hinterland is being developed in the Port of Duisburg. Duisburger Hafen AG (duisport) will withdraw its coal island from the market, starting in 2020, and build a trimodal container terminal on the site together with its international partners COSCO SHIPPING Logistics, Hupac SA, and HTS Group. This is duisport’s response to the sharp decline in coal handling resulting from the energy transformation. In the future, duisport will instead use the coal island in particular to handle the booming trade with China. The new terminal will be developed into the key European gateway hub, in particular to handle train traffic along the corridors of the New Silk Road, and will therefore operate under the name « Duisburg Gateway Terminal ».

Even now, around 30 percent of all rail-based trade between China and Europe runs through the Port of Duisburg, which is the start and end point of the China trains. Currently, between 35-40 trains per week run between duisport and a dozen different destinations in China. The terminal will significantly increase the Port’s capacities for trade with China.

In the future, up to 100 China-bound trains per week, rail traffic on the European rail corridors, in particular to Eastern and Southeastern Europe, and inland waterway services to seaports will be able to operate from the « Duisburg Gateway Terminal », which will thereby generate an annual throughput of around 850,000 standard containers (TEU) upon completion of the terminal.

Read the news here (external link)


Genova: After the tragic collapse of the Morandi bridge, the first piece of the new bridge was lifted on 01 October. Container traffic in port already recovered.

At the sound of a siren, the lifting operations of the first piece of deck of the new bridge began, which is built after the tragic collapse of the Morandi viaduct. The 50-meter long beam, built in steel and weighing 500 tons, was hoisted to almost 50 meters in height where it will support the first deck of the new Polcevera viaduct.

The lifting operations took place in the presence of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Infrastructure Minister Paola De Micheli, Mayor Marco Bucci, Governor Giovanni Toti, architect Renzo Piano who donated the design of the viaduct. Prime Minister Conte started operations, pushing a button on the stage set up for the event.

In this context, the port of Genova points out that the difficulties after the post-bridge shock are overcome. Thanks to the containerized traffic handled by the port of Genoa starting from June, the positive sign returned in 2019 with an increase of 1.2% compared to the first 8 months of 2018 (a record volume of 1,779,506 TEUs).

Read the news here (external link)

Rhine-Alpine News

North Rhine-Westphalia: Measures to reduce impact of rail transport disruptions

Illustration (from NRW State Parliament Document 17/2225): Example of a short rail link to improve operational flexibility

To reduce the impact of disruptions, the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia has singled out 16 comparatively small measures that would increase flexibility within the rail network. The state will finance the measures, of which the “larger half” is within the Rhine-Alpine corridor, with a total of about 180 million Euros in the coming years. The money is from the public transport support program, since commuter traffic will be the immediate benefactor of more stable schedules.

Measures include additional signalling, short track connections, and even a passenger platform on a freight line that is often used by re-routed passenger trains. Apparently, freight traffic and long distance passenger traffic will also profit from increased flexibility.

Find the parliamentary document here (external link, German language).


Port of Brussels: Green Inland Shipping Event showed most innovative solutions in inland navigation

On 16 October 2019, five very innovative vessels called at the port of Brussels to show technological solutions to cut CO2 and air emissions to a minimum to European decision makers and stakeholders:

Photo: Port of Brussels

Sendo Liner: battery/diesel – electric powertrain, container vessel, size: 110m*11.45m, the first commercial freight vessel in IWT able to navigate ‘zero-emission’ on the charged battery on board. It can sail up to 3h on electricity.

Ecotanker III: gas-electric powertrain, tanker vessel, size: 110m*11.4m, using LNG propelled mono-fuel engines with electric motors and bowthrusters. It has atypical configuration as the steering house is in the front.

Motor vessel Wantij: clean Euro VI combustion engine, dry cargo vessel, size: 86m*9m. This is the first commercial freight vessel for which Euro VI truck engines were “marinized.”

Motor vessel Emeli: fuel cell hydrogen and diesel-electric propulsion, crew training vessel, size 55m*7.2m. The original cargo vessel from 1961 is used by the Maritime Academy Harlingen and is retrofitted with a diesel-electric powertrain. The big innovation is the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen storage system (12 KG, 200 bar).

Hydroville: passenger vessel, size 14m*4.2m. One of the first inland vessels to use hydrogen as fuel by means of a combustion engine, mixing it with diesel.

Find more technical details here (external link).


Reminder: EGTC Advisory Board Meeting on 8 November 2019 in Cologne

The EGTC Rhine-Alpine’s Advisory Board will meet in Cologne on 8 November. Board members are kindly requested to register until 25 October!

Rhine-Alpine News

Frankfurt Metropolitan Region: Overview of all regional goods transport projects

Photo (Martin Brandt): Routing goods transport in Frankfurt Metropolitan Region

Frankfurt Metropolitan Region is one of Europe’s central economic areas, located right at the Rhine-Alpine corridor. Reducing regional goods traffic is an aim of the region. First, that means understanding the various aspects of goods traffic. Then there are many possible ways to deal with it.

Institutions within Frankfurt Metropolitan Region have done this for a number of years. They collected the many resulting projects on a website, with links to respective project info. This may be of interest to other urban regions.

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


Deepening of Nieuwe Waterweg and Botlek complete

Photo (Rotterdam Port Authority / Danny Cornelissen): Celebration of deepening the waterway

The Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management (Rijkswaterstaat) and the Port of Rotterdam Authority celebrated the completion of the deepening of the Nieuwe Waterweg and Botlek. One of the busiest waterways in the Netherlands has been deepened by a metre and a half across a distance of 25 kilometres.

Find the whole news here (external link).


Netherlands to re-introduce sleeping car service along lower Rhine

Photo (ÖBB / Harald Eisenberger): nightjet train

After Deutsche Bahn terminated its classic night train service in 2016, large parts of central Europe could no longer be reached by train overnight. Austrian national rail operator ÖBB stepped in with a number of services and has since further expanded its network. These days, the transport ministry of the Netherlands has announced an agreement with ÖBB to extend its Düsseldorf services into Amsterdam, along the Rhine-Alpine corridor. Trains will offer sleeping cars, sleeperettes as well as coaches. This goes with a subsidy of 6.7m Euros for the first three years of service (2021 – 2014).

Editor’s note: Breaking down that amount to more than 1000 days with one inbound as well as one outbound train each, and assuming roughly 300 seats/beds, would result in a subsidy of roughly 10 Euros per seat or bed offered.

Read the whole news here (external link / Dutch language)

Rhine-Alpine News

Port of Köln-Godorf: Broad local coalition halts expansion plans

Photo (HGK Köln): View of Godorf port

Godorf, a port area in the south of Köln, was foreseen to get a larger container terminal. These plans have been halted by a broad coalition of local politicians in the municipal assembly, citing a lack of growth in the container sector as well as availability of alternatives in the vicinity. At the same time, the local clean air plan has been tightened, resulting in more restrictions for truck transport across the city.

The debate around the specific port area includes questions of local container transport routes on the road network, available capacities outside Köln, as well as natural protection. While the city bans certain traffic, business institutions declare a resulting growth of overall truck transport.

Find relevant statements here (external link, German language).


Construction of new breakwater at Vado Ligure near Genova

Western Ligurian Sea Port Authority has published a €80 million ($88.5 million) tender for the executive design and construction of the first phase works of the new breakwater of the port of Vado Ligure. The tender starting price is €77.89 million, including €627,000 for design costs and just over €1 million for security charges. The offers can be presented until 12.00 on Wednesday 30 October.

Find the whole news here (external link).


Town of Lahr elected logistics manager as Mayor 

Photo (Stadt Lahr): Markus Ibert with family on election day

Markus Ibert, manging director of startkLahr Airport and Business Park, this Sunday was elected mayor of Lahr. Lahr is a German town of 46,000 in the Upper Rhine Valley between Strasbourg and Freiburg and member of the EGTC Rhine-Alpine. startkLahr develops the area around Lahr airfield, a former Canadian air base. It has attracted many logistics related businesses.

In the State of Baden-Württemberg, the position of the mayors is very strong. They serve as heads both of the local administration and of the municipal assembly; their term is 8 years. In the second round of the local election, Ibert received 55% of the popular vote. He succeeds Wolfgang Müller, who was in office for 24 years and did not seek re-election. Ibert is not member of a political party; the local chapter of the Christian Democratic Union backed his campaign.

For detailed info, see www.lahr.de (external link, German language).


Rhine-Alpine News

Traffic increases at Strasbourg port

Photo (PAS): Container facilities at Strasbourg port

PAS, the Strasbourg port authority, reports a significant upswing in traffic for the first half of 2019: River transport is up 6.3%, reaching a total of 3.8 million tons from January to June. Rail traffic showed an even stronger increase, by a full 16% to more than 700.000 tons. The increase of rail traffic was mainly caused by container transport.

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


EU supports Venlo-Kaldenkirchen rail link

Among the international railway lines that will get financial support from the EU along the Rhine-Alpine corridor, there now is also the Venlo-Kaldenkirchen (-Viersen) link. Today it serves partly as a regional passenger line and mainly as a suitable freight bypass of the German main railway line from the Ruhr area to Emmerich. It is located about half way between Emmerich and Maastricht/Aachen. On the German side, the stretch between Kaldenkirchen and Viersen is a single track bottleneck. The money (5.8 million Euros) is intended to improve track and stations for the use of freight trains.

Read the news here:

External link, Dutch language.

More on this railway link on Wikipedia (external link).


Hydrogen-powered tug is world first for Port of Antwerp

Illustration: Port of Antwerp

Port of Antwerp has ordered construction of a tug powered by hydrogen, the first in the world. This unique « Hydrotug » is driven by combustion engines that burn hydrogen in combination with diesel. The motors also comply with the very strictest standard, the EU Stage V, making them the lowest-rated for emissions on the market. This ultra-low-emission tug is being built by Compagnie Maritime Belge (CMB), a pioneer in the field of hydrogen power for shipping. With this world first Antwerp is making an important step in the transition to a sustainable, CO2-neutral port.

Read the full article here (external link).

Rhine-Alpine News

KLM to connect Amsterdam airport with Brussels by train

The problem: Most passengers on short distance flights to and from the main hubs want to connect with medium and long distance flights. The prospect of missing the flight due to train delay therefore in many cases is prohibitive of going to the airport by rail. Only when the rail segment is legally integrated into the flight journey, in such events the passenger will automatically be forwarded by the airline. This is the case in a Lufthansa deal with Deutsche Bahn: It treats some seats on selected regular Deutsche Bahn trains to and from Frankfurt airport as Lufthansa flights (see screenshot).

Screenshot: Today’s example of a rail connection treated as airline flight (DB/Lufthansa)

KLM now prepares to offer a similar service using a Thalys express train between Brussels and Amsterdam airport, treating it as a « flight ».  This step is part of KLM’s commitment to “Fly Responsibly”, which aims to create a sustainable future for air transport, but it also reflects commitment to the sector plan « Smart and Sustainable ». Next to that, KLM is faced with slot restrictions at Schiphol. By replacing short-haul flights with rail services, scarce slots can be used for services to long-haul destinations. Rail services will maintain feeder traffic to Schiphol, while network quality improves thanks to the more varied range of available destinations.

Read the complete news here (external link).


Genoa: New container record in July

Photo: Port of Genoa

The growth of containerized traffic in the port of Genoa continues: in July it touched 250,000 TEUs, the highest monthly volume ever.

The Genoese terminals of Sampierdarena and Pra’ have registered the highest level of containerized traffic ever, totaling 249,892 TEUs (+ 7% compared to the same month of 2018), with particularly high performances by the PSA Genoa Pra’ terminal (beyond 150,000 TEUs equal to + 10.1%) and by the Genoa Port Terminal of the Spinelli Group (approximately 44,000 TEUs equal to + 26.6%).

The July result consolidates the positive trend recorded in recent months and allows the port to recover the slowdown felt in the first part of the year. Looking ahead, maintaining the current trend, the port can reach an increase of around 4% by the end of the year, projecting the final balance above 2,700,000 TEUs.


Cool with liquefied natural gas: RWE and duisport officially open LNG fuel station

Photo: duisport

Minus 161 degrees and 1/600 of the normal volume – that is Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). Service vehicles in the Port of Duisburg will be able to drive with this gas effective immediately. Duisburger Hafen AG and RWE Supply & Trading GmbH opened the joint LNG fuel station with a ceremony during this year’s RWE Energy Dialogue, RWE’s industry customer event. The mobile fuel station is the first step towards an LNG infrastructure – with the objective of establishing LNG as an environmentally-friendly fuel in the Port of Duisburg. The LNG fuel station is part of the effort to establish a functioning application environment for this fuel in the region.

Read the full article here (external link).

Rhine-Alpine News

The first vessel for the second edition of CII left the Port of Genoa

Photo: Ports of Genoa

With a brief ceremony, Cosco Shipping Lines together with the Chinese Embassy, the Port System Authority of the Western Ligurian Sea (represented by the President Paolo Emilio Signorini) and PSA Genoa Prà wished good luck to all the Italian companies attending the second edition of the China International Import Expo (CIIE). On August 29 the first expedition left with destination Shanghai and boarding in the port of Genoa, PSA Genova Pra’. The loader is Pharsmart Srl, a leading company in cosmetic products, supplements and medical equipment; the goods, boarded in two 20′ refrigerated containers, were loaded on September 2 on a ship belonging to the fleet of the « Ocean Alliance ».

Read the complete news here (external link, Italian language).


Port of Antwerp: Ecological footprint lags behind freight volume and industrial output

Port of Antwerp is taking important steps to become the sustainable port of the future. This is the clear message of the fifth Sustainability Report published today by the port community. Development of the port must go hand-in-hand with the largest possible contribution to society, according to the report. Published every two years, it summarises the main economic, ecological and social indicators. These demonstrate the areas of sustainability in which the port is doing well, but also where additional efforts are required.

Read the full Sustainability Report here (external link).


Erich Staake of duisport to join the Logistics Hall of Fame

Photo: Hafen Duisburg AG/Frank Reinhold

The new member of the Logistics Hall of Fame is Erich Staake. The Chairman of the Executive Board of Duisburger Hafen AG, a member of the “Interregional Alliance for the Rhine-Alpine Corridor EGTC”, was elected as « modernizer of inland port logistics » among 30 candidates from nine nations to the international Hall of Fame of Logistics.

Erich Staake is the man behind the `wonder of Duisburg`. With his logport concept, he has achieved a task of the century in logistics in less than 20 years by transforming Duisburg’s regional port into a leading logistics hub in Europe. He not only set a logistical milestone, but also gave Duisburg a new perspective, » according to the jury of experts, which includes 70 well-known personalities from business, science, politics and the media in 13 nations.

Staake is the 35th member among the world’s most renowned logistics experts. The 65-year-old manager from the Ruhr region will be officially admitted on December 5 on the occasion of the annual Logistics Hall of Fame reception in the Erich-Klausener-Hall of the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure in Berlin.

Read the complete news here (external link).