North Sea Port to Build its Own Cross-Border Rail Line

North Sea Port
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Published Jul 2, 2023 11:46 PM by The Maritime Executive

The EU has pledged a $3.7 million grant to the North Sea Port for construction of a cross-border railway line. This project is in support of the European Green Deal, with the bloc seeking to invest in infrastructure that minimize its carbon footprint.

North Sea Port, together with rail operators ProRail and Infrabel, will partner in the cross-border rail development between Ghent in Belgium and Terneuzen in the Netherlands.

Founded in 2018, North Sea Port is the 37-mile-long cross-border port area that stretches from Vlissingen on the North Sea coast in the Netherlands to Ghent in Belgium. It was established when Zeeland Sea Ports (Vlissingen and Terneuzen) and the Port of Ghent (Belgium) merged their activities.

The rail development grant was awarded by the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), which will go into the project’s feasibility studies and setting up mechanisms for involvement and participation of local stakeholders.

As an industrial port with a relatively large market share in inland navigation, North Sea Port has been positioning itself for a modal shift. Establishing a strong rail network enables the port to provide an alternative to road transport, further reducing congestion and carbon emissions.

“Currently, some 10 percent 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 $260 million for the construction of the rail link between Terneuzen and Ghent,” said Daan Schalck, CEO North Sea Port. “With this extra pledge from EU, we can work together to facilitate the necessary research into sustainable rail transport in our port area.”

The project is scheduled to begin after the summer of this year. Primarily, the project focuses on three extensions, including a new railway line on the east bank of the Ghent-Terneuzen Canal between Axel in the Netherlands and Zelzate in Belgium.