Rhine-Alpine News

Port of Antwerp to double rail share of hinterland transport

Photo: Port of Antwerp

The port of Antwerp and Belgian rail infrastructure operator Infrabel agreed to work towards roughly doubling the rail share of the port’s hinterland transport by the year 2030. 

The port authority cites the combination of a growing port, increased pressure on the road network and ambitious environmental objectives that make a modal shift absolutely necessary. The Port of Antwerp is working hard on promoting and supporting road transport alternatives. The share of rail transport in the port’s total cargo traffic only amounts to 7 percent today. To double this percentage by 2030, the Port Authority established Railport. With different partners (other rail operators,  Infrabel, etc.) Railport launches innovative projects. They must ensure that both rail transport within the port and connections with other European hubs are as efficient and reliable as possible. Measures are to include all kinds of cargo, including bulk and container. They willl thus have a huge impact on rail infrastructures to and from Antwerp.

Read more about the port of Antwerp’s rail plans here (external link).

Enlargement of Genoa airport

Photo: Signing ceremony at Genoa Town Hall

The architectural firm One Works is currently carrying out the final design of the extension of the “Cristoforo Colombo” terminal at Genoa airport by revising and adapting the original project, approved by ENAC in 2011, including the definitive design of the new baggage handling system. This will allow the start of preparatory work by the end of this year, with the adaptation of underground utilities. The new terminal will be bright, comfortable and environmentally friendly.

Adina-Ioana Vălean is the new Commissioner for Transport

Photo (European Union 2019): Adina-Ioana Vălean at the Parliament’s Hearing

Romanian MEP Adina-Ioana Vălean is the new Commissioner for Transport in the new European Commission. She is a member of the European Peoples party and became a Member of the European Parliament on 1 January 2007, with the accession of Romania to the European Union.

Vălean has since been serving on the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy. She was the Parliament’s rapporteur for the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) and the European Union roaming regulations. From 2014 to 2017, Vălean was one of the Vice-Presidents of the European Parliament, in charge of information and communications technology (ICT). She chaired the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety from 2017 until 2019. Furthermore, she held positions related to international affairs and the Committee on Petitions.

Vălean has a master’s degree in European Integration and Security Studies, postgraduate studies in National Security and Defence Management, and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics. She served as teacher of mathematics before her full-time political career.

Find the full CV of Adina-Ioana Vălean here (external link).

Rhine-Alpine News

Another main bridge collapsed at Ligurian coast

Near Savona, at the Ligurian coast in Italy, a motorway bridge collapsed on 24 November during a mud avalanche after heavy rainfall. No casualties are reported. The collapsed bridge was opened in 1976 and held the northbound lanes of motorway A6, connecting Savona with the Turin area across the coastal mountains. The motorway had originally been opened in 1960 as a three-lane highway. It was later converted into a four-lane highway by adding a separate northbound driveway. The older road now holds the southbound lanes. Its apparently undamaged bridge was closed for inspection, being in close vicinity of the accident site.

This will be of relevance for hinterland traffic to and from Savona, where the new Vado Ligure maritime container terminal is to open in December. Resulting detours may further complicate the situation in Genova. Worldwide, according to Wikipedia (external link) this is already the 10th collapse of a significant bridge since the Morandi bridge accident in Genova on 14 August 2018.

Find more about the motorway A6 here (external link, Italian language / German languageEnglish language).


Results of project “RAISE-IT – Rhine-Alpine Integrated and Seamless Travel Chain”

Illustration: Rhine-Alpine Corridor with main nodes investigated by RAISE-IT

Results of RAISE-IT were presented at the Advisory Board meeting in Cologne on 8 November. The project deals with optimization of passenger transport along the Rhine-Alpine corridor. Topics are: Integrated cross-border timetable and services, stations as liveable and convenient gateways, and optimised transfer to and from regional trains.

The assessment revealed an additional potential demand for international long-distance services; an overall +60% with time-horizon 2035. Effective rail connections for all can be supplied by more frequent services, by improved railway capacity, or by other transport modes. However, improving regional accessibility and service integration also for non-frequent travellers from abroad should become an urgent issue, especially for nodes located on an international Corridor.

Locally, often the placement of signage is not consistent or visible, which confuses people when looking for their way. Secondly, ‘walkability’ analysis revealed a number of obstacles to pedestrian access (e.g. difficult crossing, long traffic lights phases, unpleasant subways, conflict between pedestrian routes and bike parking, etc.), especially in the areas close to the studied stations.

The EGTC Rhine-Alpine led the project, which was co-financed by Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). Noriko Otsuka of ILS, Dortmund, Maurizio Arnone of LINKS Foundation, Torino, and Sebastian Wilske of Regionalverband Mittlerer Oberrhein presented the results.

Find more about RAISE-IT here.


duisport welcomes German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier

Photo (duisport): President Steinmeier (right) at duisport with CEO Staake

On 22 November, Germany’s President Frank-Walter Steinmeier visited the Port of Duisburg as part of his visit to the Ruhr region. He toured logport I with duisport Chief Executive Officer Erich Staake. The former site of the Krupp steel mill in Rheinhausen has given way to a booming 265-hectare logistics area that is now home to approximately 50 companies and more than 5,000 employees. Directly or indirectly, the Port of Duisburg employs over 47,000 people and is therefore the job engine in the Rhine-Ruhr region.

The second destination of President Steinmeier’s visit was duisport subsidiary startport. Started two years ago, the startup accelerator has grown into a platform for globally inspiring and innovative ideas for the logistics industry.

Find the news here (external link).

The day before the visit, the Swiss daily “Neue Zürcher Zeitung” featured the development of duisport and its contribution to regional economic development as well as its role in the “New Silk Road”. The elaborate article puts the facts into context for an interested general audience.

The article can be found here (external link, German language).

Rhine-Alpine News

Port throughputs of Rotterdam and Antwerp continue to grow

Photo (Port of Antwerp): Container handling

In the third quarter of 2019, the ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp both report continuing growth.

The port of Rotterdam handled 112.4 million tonnes of freight during the third quarter of 2019. This means a total of 353.5 million tonnes has been transhipped up to the end of the third quarter. Compared with the previous year, this represents a 1% increase in cargo handling. Volume growth was mainly driven by containers, crude oil, LNG and biomass. There was a reduction in the transhipment of coal and mineral oil products.

The total freight volume handled by Port of Antwerp rose from January through September 2019 by 1.1% compared with the same period last year. The container volume (in TEU) was up by as much as 6.4%. However the slowdown in the world economy reduced the growth rate of more volatile trade flows such as conventional breakbulk, liquid bulk and vehicles. On the other hand the volume of dry bulk such as scrap metal, minerals and coal soared by 9.5%, further propelling the overall freight growth for Port of Antwerp.

Find details for Rotterdam here (external link).

Find details for Antwerp here (external link).


Second road bridge across Rhine near Karlsruhe can be planned

The banks of the Rhine are heavily populated, but bridges are rare along the Upper Rhine. The existing bridges often are bottlenecks, as the situation around the Karlsruhe road bridge during the ongoing repair work shows – see our newsletter of 5 November. Locations for additional bridges usually are not easy to find, because of population density and ecological sensitivity.

Therefore, a recent verdict of the appeal court of administration for the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate, which in that region is governing the left bank of the Rhine, is of specific importance to regional transport development: The court of appeal has ruled that planning for an additional bridge in Germany can go ahead. It would connect Karlsruhe on the right bank and Wörth on the left bank and is heavily contested by environmentalists. Another lawsuit is still pending at the court of administration for the State of Baden-Württemberg, on the right side of the Rhine.

Find details here (external link, German language).


Activities of Rail Freight Corridor Rhine-Alpine

Symbolic photo (© Deutsche Bahn AG / Uwe Miethe): Rail infrastructure

On the recent EGTC Rhine-Alpine’s Advisory Group meeting in Cologne, Dr. Christiane Warnecke, Managing Director of Rail Freight Corridor Rhine-Alpine EEIG, gave an “Update on Rail Freight Corridor Rhine-Alpine activities with focus on transport market study and performance management.” The group focused on the recent improvements and remaining challenges of infrastructure services, harmonisation, reliability, and the infrastructure itself.

In this context, the study has shown that longer trains would be the most important single measure to increase shift from road to rail, while it on the other hand will demand high investments: Even if the lines could handle longer trains, only few terminals have sufficient track length. Higher reliability would be a close second, with faster services following in third place. Routes with all three improvements in place would see a substantial rail freight increase.

The Rail Freight Corridor Rhine-Alpine EEIG is a cooperation of rail infrastructure managers along the Rhine-Alpine corridor.

Find out more (external link).

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 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).