Feasibility study on the 3RX rail corridor between Belgium and Germany
The Iron Rhine, a rail connection between Antwerp and the industrial region of the Ruhrgebiet in Germany, was operational between 1879 and 1991. Since then the section at the Netherlands-German border has no longer been available; other parts of the line are still operational. Over the past decades there has been renewed interest in this rail connection, in particular from private parties in the three countries (ports, shippers) and various studies have been carried out into revitalisation of the railway line. These studies showed limited benefits of revitalisation for the Netherlands. While some parties are concerned with negative impacts on the environment and quality of life, others see potential for passenger transport.
Based on a historic agreement between the Netherlands and Belgium an arbitration procedure has been followed on the sharing of the necessary investment costs. Also in Germany revitalisation of the historic line is being discussed and, because of the potential downsides, an alternative route along the highway A52 has been developed. This alternative requires substantial investments. Until now no decision has been taken.
Aim of the study
Given this background, and the desire to improve rail connections between North Sea Ports and the hinterland, a feasibility study has been started into a third alternative: the 3RX-route. This rail route uses as much as possible existing operational infrastructure in the three countries. It could potentially be a cost-efficient alternative, but it is also clear that investments will be needed along the route to get the operational quality and capacity that are necessary for international freight movements. Such improvements may also benefit passenger movements.
The 3RX feasibility study aims to analyse the technical, environmental and socio-economic feasibility of this 3RX-route. By bringing the information on this option up to the same level as that of the other options, the 3RX-route can be compared to revitalisation of the historic route and the A52-route. Moreover, comparison of the three options with a reference situation gives insight in their socio-economic feasibility. The (updated) information on the three routes should enable the governments to set next steps in this dossier.
The study has the following main elements:
- Assessment of the environmental feasibility
- Assessment of the technical feasibility
- Cost estimates
- Stakeholder analysis
- Cargo and traffic forecasts
- Socio-economic cost benefit analysis
- Financial analysis
- Risk analysis
- Proposals for planning and implementation structures
TML is in charge of the socio-economic feasibility and supports the technical and environmental studies.
Steering Committee Planning
The feasibility study started in January 2016 and will result in a final feasibility report in June 2017. A Steering Committee in which three national governments and two regional governments (Flanders, North Rhine-Westphalia) are represented to oversee the study. The study is contracted by the Flemish government and co-financed by the European Commission.
The reports can be downloaded from the website of the Departement MOW of the Flemish governmnet, or below:
Summary in 4 languages:
Final report in 3 languages:
Annex to the final report with all the specific task reports, including the complete SCBA: 20171215_3rx_end_report_final_appendix.pdf
Atlas with maps: 10_atlas_10kaarten.pdf
Global map: x19.pdf
Flemish Government, Department MOW
Arcadis (project leader), Ecorys, Railistics
Griet De Ceuster, Eef Delhaye
Griet De Ceuster
+32 16 31.77.30