A new dedicated fresh produce line between the Netherlands and Germany is in the making. In three years it should be up and running between the Dutch city of Bleiswijk and Berlin. Rail transport will be key, as this service offers a terminal turnaround of an hour at most. Mark Remie, initiator of the railway line, explains that this is what the horticulture industry demands.
As the managing director of FFWD Rail, Remie presented the Holland Rail Terminal at the Multimodal Event that took place on 27 June in Rotterdam. The Netherlands is a major exporter of fresh products. Of all the horticulture products grown, 75 per cent is exported, all by truck. “Every day thousands of trucks hit the road to Germany. As a rail person, I see huge opportunities here”, he said.
Special roll-on-roll-off technology
The concept involves a new terminal, a dedicated fleet and special bogies for this fleet. “Thanks to a special roll-on-roll-off technology, the trailers are moved from truck to train in 15 minutes. The wagons can make a 30 degree turn”, explained Remie. The bogies applied enable the train to increase its speed on the German network. “It operates at the same speed as an intercity train.”
Increasing speed on the logistics chain is an uncompromising condition, Remie explained. “A cucumber starts degrading from the first hour; it needs to get to the supermarket as fast as possible to ensure its value. With many train delays railway is currently unreliable. A delayed train would have a major impact on fresh products, therefore we need to do things differently.”
The Holland Rail Terminal will be situated in Bleiswijk, adjacent to the western district of Lansingerland, a major export region in the Netherlands linked to the road network by the A12 highway.The terminal is simple in itself; it includes a few tracks with pavement on both sides and a shunting yard with some tracks. Transshipment is carried out horizontally, rather than with cranes or reach stackers. The technology that makes the difference is in the fleet. The new wagons require an investment of 100 million Euros, Remie explained. The project currently has 40 investors and is supported by the province and municipality.