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Dutch government prepares to invest in the future of rail freight

April 1, 2022
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Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: As the Netherlands works to improve its railway freight infrastructure, Wisconsin companies may find opportunities to provide products in this sector.

The government of the Netherlands says it will invest in its freight railway system as a way to improve the transportation of goods and to help meet Europe’s objectives for sustainability and clean technology.

The Dutch government and the Port of Rotterdam plan to increase the volume of goods shipped across Dutch rail lines by 50% by 2032. That amounts to a growth from the current 40 million tons a year to 60 million tons a year within 10 years.

Rotterdam is an important hub for rail freight. Every week, more than 400 international container rail services run to and from the city, according to the Port of Rotterdam. Rotterdam offers a wide range of handling facilities, and its central location makes it possible to ship cargo to many destinations across Europe within 24 hours.

In the past year, rail freight already has grown by 10%, and the government says it plans to increase efficiency, transparency and reliability of the network by upgrading the railway infrastructure and its data capability.

To stimulate rail transportation, the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management and the Port of Rotterdam are funding a program called Rail Connected, aimed at automating functions and streamlining the exchange of information.

In April 2022, 19 rail freight participants signed a partnership agreement for accelerated growth of digitization and data sharing. Over the next two years, the foundation will be laid, under the leadership of the Port of Rotterdam Authority. The main goal is to better align the use of resources and capacity to produce a more competitive offer for transporting goods along the rails.

“By standardizing and digitizing the exchange of information, data is unlocked. We can make these available to the rail freight sector and possibly other parties at a later stage, with the right authorizations and in a safe manner. In this way, we develop concrete improvements with smart innovations,” said Iwan van der Wolf, managing director of Portbase. Portbase is the nonprofit that ensures that all of the core processes in all Dutch ports function properly.

Wisconsin companies with products or technologies in the railroad industry’s supply chain could find new opportunities to partner with the Dutch on such improvements,


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