Zeebrugge boosts rail ambitions

EN
NL
back
back to top
As a seaport, Zeebrugge offers excellent maritime access. However, the port also needs to be easily accessible on the land side. To relieve traffic congestion, Zeebrugge is planning a modal shift to rail. This sustainable solution will take trucks off the road, thus reducing CO2 emissions and congestion. That's why the port authority is working with various partners and players on the market to make rail transport even more attractive and competitive. Our ambition? By 2030, rail should handle 20% of cargo transport.

By 2030, rail should handle 20% of cargo transport.

Sustainable modal shift

Many goods must find their way into the European hinterland from the Port of Zeebrugge.

Johan Abel, Chief Sales & Logistics Officer: "Customers want more intermodal connections to avoid the congested roads. Because we aren't directly on a river, we face limitations for inland navigation. That's why rail is the intermodal solution for Zeebrugge, to anticipate the needs of our various clients. Our ambition is to turn Zeebrugge into a true rail hub."

The modal shift to cargo transport by rail is not only an effective solution to traffic congestion, it also reduces greenhouse gases: one train on the track takes 50 trucks off the road.
Johan Abel, Chief Sales & Logistics Officer at Port of Zeebrugge, works together with various partners to make rail transport even more attractive and competitive. Our goal: fewer trucks on the road.

Finding innovative solutions together

The Port of Zeebrugge already offers excellent rail connections. Rail currently accounts for over 13% of cargo transport in the overall modal split. All short-sea and deep-sea terminals in the port have their own rail infrastructure, so they can offer intermodal services. Moreover, the port provides access to a wide selection of rail operators, with daily connections for containers, cars and breakbulk cargo. Along with these stakeholders, the port authority is looking for innovative solutions to make cargo transport by rail even more attractive and competitive.

"Zeebrugge is also known as the pre-eminent hub for new cars."

Johan Abel

Johan Abel explains: "One of these solutions is to bundle deep-sea and short-sea loading for cost-effective deployment of direct trains. Where gains are still to be made is in transport by trailer. Most of these trailers cannot be moved onto a rail carriage with a crane anymore. So we're looking for solutions to accommodate trailers by rail as well, without road carriers having to invest in their fleets.

Zeebrugge is also known as the pre-eminent hub for new cars. To route even more new car traffic by rail, we are using digital tools to explore new prospects for optimisation."
As a hub for new cars, the port of Zeebrugge is looking for ways to let even more of this traffic run via railways.

Optimal infrastructure

An ambitious modal shift is only possible with efficient rail infrastructure. This means further expansion and perfection is vital to staying well connected. For instance, last year rail operator Infrabel invested millions of euros to modernise its connection with Zeebrugge, so the port can offer better and smoother access for cargo trains in the future.
Rail manager Infrabel invested millions of euros in the modernisation of the connection with Zeebrugge last year.

New connections

Meanwhile, various operators and terminals are also working to improve and expand rail connections. For example, since 2017 Zeebrugge has been connected to the Green Xpress Network of Lineas, the largest private rail cargo operator in Europe. And this network of direct rail connections between European economic centres is constantly expanding, so a load from Zeebrugge can reach its European destination the next day (and vice versa).

Rail operator Hupac emphasises that Belgium is a key intermodal market in Europe and that it will continue to invest in developing transport between Belgium and Southern and Eastern Europe. This operator recently connected the Port of Zeebrugge with Brescia and Barcelona, and will also add Warsaw to its direct connections from September onwards.
Since 2017, Zeebrugge has been connected to the Green Xpress Network of Lineas, the largest private rail freight operator in Europe.
Terminal Container Athus is restarting its weekly container train to and from CSP Zeebrugge Terminal. This rail connection launched in late 2019, but was suspended when COVID-19 disrupted global container services. In addition to Athus, we will also soon add Strasbourg as a new inland connection for the deep-sea services.

"Given the upcoming merger with the Port of Antwerp, this interport connection may well take on a larger role."

Johan Abel

Johan Abel: "Clients are demanding sustainable alternatives like rail. So we have to make rail solutions just as attractive as road transport, for a broad and growing selection of European destinations. And given the upcoming merger with the Port of Antwerp, this interport connection may well take on a larger role. Together with our partners, we can make this modal shift a success."
Curious about the objectives, challenges and state-of-the-art projects of the Port of Zeebrugge? Take a look at COMPASS, where we show you our path towards a strong and sustainable future.
CEO Tom Hautekiet experiences a captivating first year at Port of Zeebrugge.
back to top