Port of Antwerp-Bruges and Railport are aiming to raise the proportion of cargo transport by rail to 15% by 2030. One of the projects for achieving this objective is bundling volumes by rail in Antwerp. The bundling project has been operational since 1 January 2024. 

Why rail bundling?

Achieving a 15% rail share requires not only a new mindset, but also thorough operational optimisation. For example, we had already developed a general rail vision for the port and signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with Railport and Infrabel.

 

The quality of first/last mile transportation is under pressure today due to three reasons:

  1. operational or infrastructure challenges
  2. lack of transparency
  3. high inefficiency due to fragmented delivery to the final destination

 

The solution to those challenges lies in better collaboration in port activities for conventional single-carriage transport (SWL) and for block trains. This is where the project to bundle volumes by rail comes in.

Door volumes per spoor te bundelen, verhogen we de efficiëntie van het het spoorvervoer.

How we do it

Specifically, this project should lead to the optimisation of first/last mile operations, with a positive impact on all parties.

 

  • Increased efficiency and flexibility thanks to higher frequencies and more round trips
  • Greater transparency thanks to a solid, supportive IT system using standardised and digitalised processes.
  • Positive impact on the price and use of port infrastructure thanks to more cost-efficient production
  • Improved quality and reliability of rail transport
  • Increased accessibility for new and smaller cargo
HUPAC has new shuttles to and from Duisburg.

How do we do that?

In order to achieve this pooling of volumes, Railport, along with and at the request of industry and shippers, has set up a system to facilitate smooth collaboration. To this end, Railport identified the cargo volumes for the first/last mile route, acting as a neutral facilitator here, taking on the organisation through group purchasing. 

 

For the bundling itself, the port was divided into several zones, looking for one rail operator per zone. Schematically, the bundling looks like this:

Eén spoorwegonderneming per zone leidt het first/last mile traject in goede banen, zowel voor block trains als singlewagon vervoer.

The roadmap for the project is as follows:

  1. Railport signs a multilateral NDA (non-disclosure agreement) with each company that shares volumes.
  2. Railport identifies the volumes on the first/last mile route.
  3. The participating company mandates Railport to pool its volumes in a group purchase. Railport collects and consolidates volumes over the first/last mile.
  4. Railport divides the port into zones based on consolidated volumes and operational optimisation and organises a tender for bundling. In doing so, it works by mandate from the industry/freight payer.
  5. Railport evaluates the bids according to principles predetermined in the tender and chooses one rail operator per zone. The participating companies enter into a first/last mile agreement with the chosen railway undertaking.
  6. Railport develops an IT application to support the bundling process.

 

In order for the project to succeed, neutral operation of the shunting hump is very important. This means all the railway undertakings will have access, we can implement a supporting IT application and transport agreements can be adjusted. Trieer hill has been in neutral management since April 2023.

What do we expect from participants?

In the short term, we expect companies (the freight payers) who want to participate to:

  • sign a multilateral NDA to formalise participation
  • provide data on volumes and final destinations
  • give Railport the mandate to organise the tender
  • split transport agreements into 'long-haul' and 'short-haul' (first/last mile at the port) prior to the launch of bundling

Contact our experts

Nils Van Vliet

CEO Railport

Saskia Luyckx, Mobility Advisor
Saskia Luyckx

Product Advisor

Any questions?

Please do not hesitate to contact us.

You may also be interested in this