Europe underlines importance of rail development in North Sea Port with €3.4 million grant

Published on Wed 28 Jun 2023
North Sea Port, together with rail operators ProRail and Infrabel, is working on cross-border rail development in the port between Ghent and Terneuzen. The EU has underlined the importance of sustainable, forward-looking cross-border rail development in North Sea Port with a grant.

In order to realise the rail development between Terneuzen and Ghent, a lot of preparatory work is needed: further research ahead of the construction work and setting up mechanisms for the involvement and participation of local stakeholders. Thanks to this financial contribution, the Rail Ghent Terneuzen project organisation, consisting of ProRail, Infrabel and North Sea Port, will now be able to take this next step.

"The Dutch government and the Belgian federal government have already pledged nearly €240 million for the construction of the rail link between Terneuzen and Ghent." – Daan Schalck, CEO North Sea Port

Daan Schalck, CEO, North Sea Port: "Currently, some 10% of freight transport between the port and the hinterland takes place by rail. The Dutch government and the Belgian federal government have already pledged nearly €240 million for the construction of the rail link between Terneuzen and Ghent. With this pledge of support from Europe, we can work together to facilitate the necessary research into sustainable rail transport in our port area."

Benoît Gilson, CEO Infrabel: "This cross-border rail development project in the port area aims to promote rail freight transport and so support the modal shift, the switch from road to rail transport. Together with the other infrastructure projects and rail investments, Infrabel wants to contribute to sustainable and customer-focused solutions in and around North Sea Port. After all, ports are the engines of our economy and mobility, and as such represent an essential link in our society."

ProRail CEO John Voppen also welcomes the additional funding for international rail freight."Obviously, rail freight doesn't stop at the border. It goes all over Europe. For that reason, it is good to look beyond borders in our planning and studies, and to support each other in achieving our shared goals. So I am very pleased with this development."

Part of European Green deal

The grant was awarded by 'The Connecting Europe Facility' (CEF) to help accelerate the sustainable modal shift in transport networks across Europe (the Trans-European Transport Network - TEN-T). This will provide a further impetus to achieving the European Green Deal. The rail developments in North Sea Port fit perfectly within those efforts, with a commitment to sustainable rail transport that can provide an alternative to road transport. As well as giving an economic boost to the region, the new rail link will contribute to a favourable and sustainable business climate.

Engagement with local stakeholders

The study into rail developments will also focus on engagement with local stakeholders. In this way, the partners aim to secure social and economic added value for businesses, the region and local residents alike.

Previously, it was announced that existing rail transportation in the port area will be upgraded with the following three extensions:

  • A new railway line on the east bank of the Ghent-Terneuzen Canal between Axel in the Netherlands and Zelzate in Belgium;
  • A new curve in the track east of the Sluiskil bridge in the Netherlands;
  • A rail connection on the north side of the tracks at Kluizendok towards the Netherlands (Belgium).

Preparatory phase and involvement of local stakeholders

Preliminary analyses will begin after the summer of 2023. In this phase, local stakeholders will be involved. ProRail and Infrabel will be engaging with local residents and organisations. At the start of the study phase, Infrabel will publish an initial memorandum and a project memorandum, and ProRail will publish a notification of intention in the Netherlands. These documents will also describe how local stakeholders will be involved.