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Netherlands rail operators threatened by high costs

UTRECHT, Netherlands: November 28, 2017. RailGood, a Dutch alliance of 50 rail operators, logistics companies, inland terminals plus the German port of Duisburg, has petitioned the Dutch Parliament to withdraw support for the European Railway Traffic Management System (ERTMS) saying the high cost will make Netherlands rail-based services uncompetitive.

port of DuisburgThe ERTMS is a major industrial project of the European Union developed by eight rail manufacturers: Alstom Transport, Ansaldo STS, AZD Praha, Bombardier Transportation, CAF, Mermec, Siemens Mobility and Thales.

The object is to replace 20 national train command and control systems in Europe with one automatic train protection system and a single Global System for Mobile (GSM) voice and data communication network.

The RailGood lobby claims the introduction of ERTMS and the "exponential increase in infrastructural charges" will lead to losses by rail, port and terminal operators, reduce the level of future investment and make the Dutch rail logistics sector ultimately less competitive.

This is in contrast to Germany, the group says, that has chosen to reduce the cost of rail infrastructure because rail freight contributes to environmentally friendly, safe and efficient transport.

RailGood wants Dutch politicians to lower the cost of rail to equal that of truck and barge transport; stop the deployment of ERTMS; adopt the German 'Masterplan for Rail Freight Transportation' for rail safety systems; guarantee interoperability with neighboring countries; adopt technology that will last for decades; and compensate rail companies for the current cost of compliance.

"We request the Dutch Parliament to make the Dutch rail freight transport attractive so that shippers more often choose rail," declared RailGood in its petition that claims will lower overall CO2 levels in line with the Paris Agreement, reduce road congestion, and improve access to Dutch seaports leading to more economic development.

(Pictured: The largest inland port in the world, Duisburg handles 3.7 million TEU a year and is connected to North Sea ports via the Rhine-Herne and Dortmund-Ems canals.)

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