The Port of Duisburg and the Port of Antwerp will work more closely in the future, in order to intensify rail and barge transport between the two regions and their hinterland. Duisburg and Antwerp already signed a Memorandum of Understanding in 1999. On 4 July, they renewed this memorandum and extended it. The intensified co-operation will go well beyond the current plans to extend intermodal rail freight transport. It will strive for the qualitative reinforcement of the logistic corridor between the ports by reducing transit times in general and by providing the Port of Antwerp with improved connections to the railway system for which Duisburg is a central hub in the West. The direct rail connection from Duisburg to Antwerp was set up by the duisport Group in 2006 under difficult competitive conditions with regard to road and inland waterway transport.
“With this extension we are making the environmentally friendly and sustainable handling of future transport volumes between our ports possible,” said Erich Staake, Chief Executive Officer of Duisburger Hafen AG on the signing of the memorandum. “From our perspective the direct rail connection between our ports is essential, even though we still have to make a detour as the most direct connection, the Iron Rhine, is not operational”. Marc Van Peel, Chairman of the Port of Antwerp, added: “Together we intend to commit ourselves to intermodal rail freight transport in particular and to develop the Antwerp–Duisburg axis as one of the most important logistic corridors in Europe. In this respect, Antwerp will also actively cooperate on further developing the Vienna-Duisburg-Antwerp shuttle,Vienna being an important gate to the Central- and East European rail markets.”
After the initial start of the Duisburg-Antwerp rail shuttle in 2006, the number of trains was constantly increased. Today, container trains with approximately 90 standard containers (TEU) per train run between Duisburg and Antwerp on a round trip basis ten times per week. To underline the strategic importance of a frequent and reliable connection with Duisburg, the Port of Antwerp has now decided to actively participate in this rail link. As a confirmation of this partnership an agreement is being signed between the two parties. “It is actually a significant first step towards the concrete realization of the Memorandum of Understanding. The extension of a high-frequency rail connection between the hubs will allow for a vast improvement in the rail-relations between Duisburg and Belgian ports and will open up other significant European rail-markets,” emphasized the two port- representatives Staake and Van Peel.
The trains will be processed on logport I in Duisburg. Loading and unloading is actually done in Antwerp via the Antwerp MainHub. The most important sea port terminals can be reached from there by train.The connections are operated by the duisport agency GmbH, a subsidiary of Duisburger Hafen AG, and IFB Inter Ferry Boats VA/SA from Belgium.
Next to the partnership in the Duisburg–Antwerp rail connection the port of Antwerp will also be working closely together with the duisport Group to strengthen the rail link with Vienna. The rail connection between Duisburg and Vienna was first set up by the duisport Group as early as 2003. As Austrian shippers prefer to be able to make a port choice, the port of Antwerp is helping to further develop this strategic freight connection. “Improving the Vienna connection over Duisburg allows the partners duisport and IFB to obtain economies of scale and increase the frequency of this rail connection”, states Eddy Bruyninckx, CEO of the Antwerp Port Authority. He emphasizes that the Port of Antwerp is willing to analyse all the opportunities improving the port’s hinterland connectivity.
The two partners are also considering mutual investments in the ports. Joint advice on possible investment projects will be exchanged in future as part of this cooperation. In the past, the Port of Duisburg had already taken a stake in the container terminal Antwerp Gateway on the left bank of the river Scheldt.