Belgian rail freight operators endorse the call for a national mobility pact in 2019

03 May 2019

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The Belgian Rail Freight Forum endorses the call for a national mobility pact launched today by Greenpeace, Trein Tram Bus, Bond Beter Leefmilieu, and Inter-Environnement Wallonie. In the call, the NGOs ask the next government to prioritise mobility, focus on rail transport (for both passengers and goods) as backbone of tomorrow’s transport model, and adopt a true mobility policy in favour of a modal shift from road to rail.

As rail freight operators, we unanimously endorse this pact,” says Paul Hegge, representative of the Belgian Rail Freight Forum. “Transport is expected to grow 30% by 2030, which makes our reliance on road transport increasingly unsustainable. Our government needs to stimulate an intelligent transport mix with rail as backbone. The Belgian rail freight operators are committed to double rail volumes by 2030.

What should happen to boost rail

The call for a national mobility pact demands our government to impose a new mission to Infrabel. This mission should focus on maximizing the number of passengers and volumes of goods transported on its network by making sure – as far as cargo is concerned - that driving a train is as easy as driving a truck. It promotes a better alignment of the national rail networks into one harmonized European network and requires a reduction of the rail path costs.

On top of that, the Belgian Rail Freight Forum asks the government to reward transport companies that choose sustainable transport modes such as rail. It has been proven that rail is competitive, but the handling to and from rail makes it more expensive. If the government would partially reimburse companies for the handling costs, this would be an important step in shifting goods from road to rail.

Limited investment, major impact

The next government can adopt these measures without big investments. Doubling the rail volumes could avoid an extra 1.5 million tons of CO2 emissions, 2,000 tons of fine particles, and a collective standstill by 2030. The rail infrastructure is already there, says Paul Hegge, “It’s a matter of correct allocation and efficient use of the resources available. It can be done. And it can be done relatively quickly, cheaply and to everyone's benefit.

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