By Rasmus Munk Kolind, Commercial Manager, Rail.
Heavier congestion on the roads and stricter climate targets have renewed interest in moving goods by rail. As a result, the railway may be heading for a new lease of life. The fact is that we can significantly reduce our impact on the climate by transferring freight from lorries to trains. In addition to the climate benefits, rail freight can compete with traditional road transport on parameters such as price and flexibility.
This form of transport is becoming increasingly popular at Port of Aalborg. Since we became part of the German rail operator DB Cargo Scandinavia’s route network in 2016, the port has in many ways become the rail hub for the whole of North Jutland. And we are now ready to invest even more in supporting this trend.
We have recently launched a 43,000-square-metre expansion of the railway. This includes construction of a new terminal area which will provide even better conditions for efficient freight transport and handling. We have also parcelled out a 21,000-square-metre plot to give businesses the opportunity for a location right next to the rail track. The investments in and around the rail network should be seen as a response to the huge demand Port of Aalborg is currently seeing for moving freight by rail. Last year alone, the number of single wagon loads leaving from the port of Aalborg increased by 75%.
There is much to suggest that businesses in North Jutland are beginning to regard rail transport as a serious alternative to the roads, and in some cases even conveyance by sea. While road transport is becoming more and more inhibited by increasing traffic congestion, the rail network is becoming increasingly flexible due to growing investments in infrastructure for conveyance of goods. Not just in Denmark, but throughout Europe.
And the railway is also moving up the political agenda. If it were up to the EU, the rail network would play a vital role in the greening of the transport sector in Europe. One of the goals of the EU Commission’s Green Deal climate strategy is to transfer a significant volume of the freight currently transported around Europe by road to inland waterways and, particularly, the railway. Therefore, although many European companies already have rail tracks running directly into their own terminals, we can expect to see heavy investment in the rail network across Europe in the coming years.
Road transport has established its position as a very flexible form of transport over the course of many years. However, rail freight is starting to be able to compete. Port of Aalborg is fully prepared to be a part of the green agenda for the transport and logistics sector, and we consider it essential to be able to offer companies a fast, efficient and more eco-friendly method for transporting goods from and to the port of Aalborg when they need to.
For this reason, we expect to invest even more in our rail facilities in the years to come, to enable us to manage and support tomorrow’s green growth.