The trajectory

In the context of the joint rail strategy of the Port of Ghent and Zeeland Seaports, rail bottlenecks such as the Sluiskil bridge (NL), the Wiedauwkaai bridge (B), bundles Sas van Gent (NL) and Zandeken (B) and the Ghent-Seaport shunting station have been mapped out, as well as the missing link on the eastern side of the canal. Longer tracks are required at Ghent-Seaport. Companies in the Ghent–Terneuzen cross-border region are encountering competitive disadvantages due to the longer travel time and the additional costs incurred.

Zeeland Seaports and the Port of Ghent, in collaboration with the Municipality of Terneuzen and the Province of Zeeland, therefore submitted a research proposal to improve the rail infrastructure to the European Commission. The result of this three-year study will serve as an important tool in further investment decisions made by authorities for the work required to improve the railway. The study will also investigate all aspects necessary in preparation for this.

Aspects such as the railway’s sensitivity to risk in the region (including the Sluiskil bridge and Wiedauwkaai bridge crossings) and the railway capacity that will be required in future in this rapidly developing area are being considered. Passenger transport options on the railway are also being considered and different funding options are being explored.

About the bottlenecks

  • Sluiskil bridge: The bridge is the main railway link for commercial activities on the eastern side of the canal. The bridge forms a logistical bottleneck in the effective flow of the logistics chain and most likely provides insufficient capacity to meet predicted future transportation needs.
  • Shunting station Sas van Gent: Growth within the current noise contour is too limited to achieve more transportation and/or movements within the current yard.
  • Wiedauwkaai bridge: Potential failure of the mechanism is creating problems for railway transportation.
  • Rail bundle Zandeken: A research is being conducted on the possible expansion of this rail bundle Zandeken, in order to facilitate the prospected increased flow of goods at the Kluizendok. The connection on the north side of this rail bundle will make it possible to have a direct connection towards Terneuzen.
  • Shunting station Ghent-Zeehaven: At this station, three tracks will be extended to 740 metres (length). The realisation of this extension will take place by 2020.
  • Missing link: This is the missing link in the Ghent-Terneuzen rail infrastructure. On the side of the canal where the track is missing (the eastern side), major developments are currently underway, such as the arrival of a new company and its expansion.

Improving
sustainability,
investment climate
and competitiveness

The Port of Ghent and Zeeland Seaports are both ambitious in terms of sustainability. Improved rail infrastructure has an important part to play in a sustainable modal split because it will enable a shift from road transport to rail. In addition, the presence of sufficient and reliable railway capacity will increase the competitiveness of the companies based in the ports and will make the ports an even more attractive location for companies.

 

The study enjoys very broad support: ProRail, Infrabel, Outokumpu, YARA, Vlaeynatie, Verbrugge, OVET, VNO-NCW Brabant Zeeland, PORT & Industry Zeeland (PORTIZ), EVO Fenedex, KNV, VEGHO-VOKA, the Flemish Department of Mobility and Public Works, the Scheldemond Euregion and Zelzate municipality have actively communicated the importance of this study to the European Commission. The Belgian federal government and the Dutch Ministry for Infrastructure and the Environment have let the European Commission know that they are in favour of the study.


Jointly submitting the proposal and obtaining a significant subsidy suggests that a merger between two port areas and authorities has real potential at European level.

In order to achieve an optimal cross-border rail infrastructure, a number of studies have been launched to identify what is needed for rail improvements in the port areas of Ghent and Terneuzen. Two studies (transport demand and capacity analysis and risk and sensitivity analysis) have already started.

More information