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New call for "Iron Rhine" to be reactivated

The German state of Nordrhein Westfalen (NRW) and the Belgian region of Flanders are urging new talks about the return of a direct railway track between Antwerp and NRW

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A tripartite task force representing the governments of Belgium, the Netherlands and NRW should be established, stated new NRW transport minister Hendrik Wüst and his Flemish counterpart Ben Weyts, during Mr Wüst’s first official tour of Antwerp and Rotterdam sea ports

There are two main routes through which direct Antwerp-NRW railfreight traffic could run, but these all pass Dutch territory, via the Dutch logistical hub of Venlo, or via Roermond, whereby new tracks could avoid the Meinweg natural park through which the old line that was in use until the early 1990s.

The Dutch deputy transport minister recently spoke out against the ‘Iron Rhine’ revamp, arguing that the costs outweigh the benefits. The Belgians, however, have always maintained that this is simply state protection of Rotterdam, which handles 60% of all NRW’s maritime cargo flows.

During his visit to the Port of Rotterdam, Wüst and the port’s CEO Allard Castelein shook hands on the start of talks that will lead to the establishment of a bilateral "port agreement." Its aim is to "further optimise the logistical connections between Rotterdam and NRW…whilst observing climate and energy issues. This agreement included in the new NRW cabinet’s declaration of last summer.

The NRW transport minister also met with the new Dutch transport minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, among many other Belgian and Dutch infrastructure officials.

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