Additional rail service from Antwerp to Rhine-Ruhr and Rhine-Main

Rail operator H&S Container Line is launching an additional weekly round trip between the two container terminals at the Deurganckdok in the port of Antwerp and Andernach in Germany. Already operating this route, H&S will be able to increase the frequency to biweekly round trips with the financial support offered by Antwerp Port Authority. The funding provided to H&S Container Line stems from the open call for projects launched by the Port Authority in October last year with the hope of finding projects to improve rail connectivity between Antwerp and the Rhine-Ruhr and Rhine-Main regions. 

Even though other operators had submitted a project, some of these projects did not meet the conditions for financial support. However, this does not mean that these projects were not started. For example, B Logistics launched a new rail service to Ludwigshafen early this year and DB Cargo is operating to Wanne Eickel and Mannheim. 

Open call 

The Rhine-Ruhr and Rhine-Main regions are among the most industrialized and therefore most cargo-generating regions in Germany. For both regions, Antwerp is the closest port, and their natural gateway to and from the hinterland. In 2015, 64 million tonnes of goods were transported between Antwerp and Germany. Although most of the goods from the Rhine region are transported towards Antwerp by waterways, a large portion of goods is still carried by road.

The Port Authority decided to launch an open call to encourage intermodal operators to create a new rail shuttle or improve an existing rail service. The projects retained by the Port Authority could count on restricted funding, also limited in time. “An important part of the cargo between Antwerp and the German hinterland must also be transported by rail in the future. As a Port Authority, we want to support all projects that contribute to this necessary modal shift,” the Port Authority commented. 

H&S Container Line and DB Cargo

In December 2016, H&S Container Line launched a new direct open rail link to Andernach. The intermodal train makes one round trip every week between Andernach and quays 1700 and 1742 at Deurganckdok. H&S submitted a project, involving a request for financial aid, to increase the frequency to two round trips a week. “The funding provided by the Port Authority allows us to offer a sustainable rail-based product to both our Antwerp and Rhine-based customers, complementary to the already well-developed inland waterways system,” said Heiko Brückner, CEO of H&S Container Line. For the Port Authority, the shuttle service to Andernach is located smack in the middle of the region that was the subject of this open call for tenders, which explains why the project has received such a positive review.

Traction is provided by DB Cargo which leads us to believe in the further development of Antwerp as a rail port. The German operator wants to increase the share of rail transport in the modal shift. New rail products have to be developed in order to reach this goal. “That’s why we look forward to increased cooperation with the Port of Antwerp,” added DB Cargo. 

Central and Eastern Europe

This is already the second time the Port Authority has sought to improve the rail service to a specific region through a call for projects. In late 2015, it launched a call for proposals to develop rail links between the port of Antwerp and Central and Eastern Europe. In March of last year, three projects were retained under this call, with new rail services to respectively Poland, the Czech Republic and Austria as a result. “While our funding is limited, because it is bound by rules on state aid, we still find that rail operators in the capital-intensive rail market are benefiting from our resources to launch new rail products,” the Port Authority concluded. 


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