NMa: rail capacity allocation for international freight transport must be improved


In its survey of international rail-capacity allocation, the Netherlands Competition Authority (NMa) looked into bottlenecks and looked for solutions for international rail freight transport. In the Netherlands, 85% of rail freight is cross-border traffic. The NMa launched this study following indications it had received that the allocation of international rail freight capacity left much to be desired.

Freight must be able to be shipped easily and swiftly from the port of Rotterdam to its hinterland. This is even more important now that the port of Rotterdam will be expanded (the so-called Second Maasvlakte expansion project), putting additional pressure on roads, inland waterways, and rail connections. In that context, a sound allocation of international rail capacity is vital. It calls for flexibility and timely international coordination, not just about who is allowed to use what time slots, but also when and where maintenance works can be carried out, and what alternative routes are available.

The NMa is expecting to launch a more detailed study this year in cooperation with the German rail regulator, the Bundesnetzagentur. One of the objectives is to find out whether participants cooperate sufficiently with one another when planning maintenance works. In addition, the NMa will use the survey findings in its advisory reports on the development and use of European freight corridors. Finally, the NMa will point out to freight undertakings their responsibility to provide the infrastructure managers with accurate information. Only then are the infrastructure managers able to equally provide the freight undertakings with good service.