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American Shipper

First train runs on Betuwe Route in Europe

First train runs on Betuwe Route in Europe

The first commercial train moved goods Monday along the long-awaited Betuwe Route, a 160-kilometer (99.4 miles) double-track railway dedicated to connecting the Port of Rotterdam with the German hinterland.

   The 4.6 billion euro ($6.1 billion) project has been under construction for about 10 years and is seen by the Dutch port as crucial to getting more cargo off the road and onto rail.

   The first train service runs twice a day and brings in corn from Hungary into Rotterdam for export. Only one train per hour is allowed on tracks presently, as work is still ongoing to satisfy certain European safety systems. Keyrail, the company operating the Betuwe Route, expects that by 2009 some 110 trains per 24 hours will be using the route before it reaches its commercial target of 240 trains each day.

   The connecting rail in Germany has available capacity for four freight trains per hour going in both directions. A third track will be added in 2013 to coincide with the opening of Maasvlakte 2, Rotterdam’s 8-million-TEU container terminal project.

   The Port of Rotterdam owns 35 percent of Key Rail while Pro Rail holds 50 percent and the Port of Amsterdam the remaining 15 percent.

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