A European first: hump yard in the port of Antwerp operated neutrally for the first time

A European first: hump yard in the port of Antwerp operated neutrally for the first time

Assembling freight trains faster, more efficiently and more economically

Moving more goods, faster and more economically by rail because it’s good for the economy and good for the environment. That’s the essence of this story. The neutral operation of the automatic hump yard at the Antwerp-North marshalling yard in the port is an important factor in achieving that goal. Thanks to this rail infrastructure in Belgium's largest and busiest freight station, trains can be assembled more efficiently. In order to create a level playing field for everyone, the Port of Antwerp-Bruges, Railport Antwerp, Lineas and Infrabel are working together to make this important facility available to all rail operators.

Faster and more efficient freight train composition

Thanks to the automatic shuntingfacility at the Antwerp-North marshalling yard in the Port of Antwerp-Bruges (PoAB), freight trains can be assembled up to six times faster. The importance of this logistics node, where "puzzling out" freight trains is part of daily business, should therefore not be underestimated. Nevertheless, this facility has been underutilized for some time. For many railway undertakings, theinvestments are too high because they need shunting locomotives and skilled personnel. A joint plan by Port of Antwerp-Bruges, Railport Antwerp, the freight carrier Lineas and the infrastructure manager Infrabel is now set to change that. The centerpiece of this plan: neutral operation of the automatic shunting facility. It’s the first time in the history of Belgian railroads that something like this has happened. More than that, it’s even a European first!

Level playing field for all

Neutral operation of the rail facility began on April 1, 2023. This means that it’s available to all rail operators on equal terms. Lineas is committed to providing shuntingservices to all at market-based, transparent prices and conditions. This activity will be followed up by Infrabel in collaboration with PoAB. Furthermore, the pricing for shunting services is controlled by the rail regulator.

Neutral management does not only lower the treshold, it also encourages cooperation between different companies in order to collect their goods. This eliminates some unnecessary train movements – which is not only safer but also frees up more capacity in the very busy rail yards in the Antwerp port area. So this joint plan checks all the boxes, making freight rail transport in the PoAB safer, faster, more efficient, economical and environmentally friendly.

Transparent software to track activities

In order to further streamline everything, Infrabel and PoAB are working on a high-performance software program. Customers can easily and quickly monitor their requests using this computer system, which is linked to the shunting installation. Users can monitor the status of their freight train and/or wagons in real-time. For example, when it will be ready and where it is located. Each step of the shunting process is recorded in the system and can be accessed at any time. This gives all customers a clear picture. The infrastructure manager, in collaboration with the neutral operator Lineas, will be ultimately responsible for planning, allocating capacity, and finding solutions in the event of double bookings.

The neutral management of the shunting plant is an important part of the sustainable rail vision 2030. This joint vision of the future, developed by Infrabel, PoAB and Railport Antwerp aims to double the proportion of freight transported by rail in the port of Antwerp by 2030. This so-called modal shift seeks to make rail more attractive so that more and more companies choose it. After all, those who transport their goods by rail, opt for fewer trucks and less road congestion. That's a win-win situation for both the economy and the environment.


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About Port of Antwerp-Bruges

With an overall throughput of 271 million tonnes per year, Port of Antwerp-Bruges is a critical hub in worldwide trade and industry. The port is a crucial link for the handling of containers, breakbulk and for the throughput of vehicles. Port of Antwerp-Bruges is home to 1,400 companies and accommodates the largest integrated chemical cluster in Europe. The port provides, directly and indirectly, a total of around 164,000 jobs and generates an added value of 21 billion euros.
The ambition for Port of Antwerp-Bruges is clear - to become the world's first port that reconciles economy, people and climate. As well as growing in a sustainable way, the Port also aims to focus on its unique position as a logistics, maritime and industrial centre and to take the lead in the transition to a circular and low-carbon economy. Together with the port community, customers and other partners, Port of Antwerp-Bruges is actively seeking innovative solutions for a sustainable future. High on the agenda is its responsibility for the environment and the surrounding society. 

The port sites of Antwerp and Zeebrugge are operated by the Antwerp-Bruges Port Authority, a limited liability company of public law with the City of Antwerp and the City of Bruges as its shareholders. The port employs 1,800 people. Vice-Mayor of Antwerp Annick De Ridder is President of the Board of Directors, the Mayor of Bruges Dirk De fauw is the Vice-President. Jacques Vandermeiren is CEO and President of the Executive Committee, which is responsible for the port’s day-to-day management. 


The telephone number +32 492 15 41 39 is only for press inquiries. For other questions you can mail to communicatie@portofantwerpbruges.com

Port of Antwerp-Bruges
Zaha Hadidplein 1
2030 Antwerp