Terminal operators upgrade pivotal rail-shortsea connection at Rotterdam


Procedures have been overhauled in a critical link between Europe’s rail freight and shortsea networks in Rotterdam, in an upgrade responding to customer feedback which also enhances multimodal transport competitiveness.

Rail Service Center Rotterdam (RSC) loads and discharges 14-15 freight trains daily on average, at a state-of-the-art terminal fed by nine train service providers weekly from all over Europe. While many of the estimated 270,000 cargo units passing through each year are redistributed overland, significant numbers transfer to shortsea ships. Around 70,000 units move via the nearby Rotterdam Shortsea Terminals (RST).

In a project initiated by the boards of the two terminal companies and supported by Samskip, work began in May 2022 to eliminate inefficiencies in the connecting ‘shunt’. All three parties recognise optimising the modal switch of unitised cargoes at Europe’s largest container port as a material factor in shipper transport choices.

“This has been an invaluable project, where we have worked together to troubleshoot issues and set up procedures and solutions,” said Pierre van Dalen, Operations Manager, RSC. “Our common goal is to optimise efficiency and renew RSC’s ability to take advantage of growth in multimodal transport.

“We have established a permanent framework so that the shunt operation between our two terminals contributes to – rather than frustrates – the efficiency of transport providers, rail networks and all of our shortsea clients. Future work will focus on squeezing any remaining inefficiencies out of the process to shorten transit times.”