Skip to main content

For years, the Caland Bridge has been a severe bottleneck for rail freight in and out of the Port of Rotterdam. With the opening of the Theemswegtracé, capacity will improve by leaps and bounds. We went to take a look. 

Text: Marco Barneveld 

It takes some time to find the right size in the cupboard of safety shoes. And it was rather clumsy of me first to put on the boots and then the bright orange safety trousers: the helmet and the bright orange jacket complete the outfit. Not much later, we’re standing on top of the brand-new Theemswegtracé, glistening in the bleak autumn sunshine.

Wide bridge

I notice that the bridge is relatively wide. “That’s right,” says Steven de Mos, civil engineer at Port of Rotterdam. “There are two bridges on the route. The Zwartewaalsebrug and Rozenburgsebrug. The latter is located at a point where the railway line curves. Building a curved bridge would be extremely expensive. By designing a slightly wider steel bridge, the railway track on that bridge can make a curve. The entire route is full of such cleverness.”

Cleverness was definitely necessary on the whole track. The Theemswegtracé can justifiably be called a feat of engineering. Building in built-up areas is always tricky, but this was puzzling with a microscope, as the stretch of railway runs from km 20,750 of the Port railway line in the Botlek, to km 25,175 west of the current Calandbrug in the Europoort.

Densely built-up area

It is therefore built in the middle of a densely built-up petrochemical area. Above and below ground, the production and transit of goods and containers continue twenty-four hours a day. Everything had to be turned upside down. “Roads, cycle paths, cables, and pipelines have been re-routed for the route,” says Steven de Mos. “More than four kilometers of elevated track have been laid, including two new steel bridges. But most importantly, a major bottleneck in rail freight transport has been removed, allowing for a substantial increase in capacity.”

That bottleneck was the Caland Bridge, a steel lift bridge built in 1969. Until now, all traffic had passed over and under it. As a railway bridge, it was the connecting link in the Havenspoorlijn, part of the Betuweroute, and it linked the western port area with the hinterland. But also, the seagoing traffic uses the Calandbrug, which is the gateway to the Brittany port.

Priority
“The Calandbrug, therefore, opens several times a day, whereby maritime traffic has priority. Train and shipping traffic were increasingly in each other’s way,” explains Steven de Mos. “This meant that only fifty-eight trains could pass over the Caland Bridge.”

To address the bottleneck, the State Secretary of Infrastructure and the Environment made the final decision in the Structural Vision Project Caland Bridge in September 2015 to divert the Port railway line. In the years that followed, the route was prepared and constructed piece by piece by construction consortium SaVe, which includes Dura Vermeer, Besix, and Mobilis and bridge builders Hollandia and Iemants. The superstructure, the track, the overhead lines, and various parts of the train security systems, were carried out by VolkerRail in cooperation with ProRail. ETS Spoor supplied the materials. But there were quite a few challenges. Especially cables in the ground caused unforeseen costs.

Smooth cat’s ear

“In the Rotterdam port area, there are many cables and pipes in the ground. We had to replace all of them before we put any poles in the ground,” explains Steven de Mos. “But that was not all. We had to consider buzzards, bats, smooth cat’s ear, and the preservation of a memorial tree for a deceased person whose family wanted it preserved. We also planted the greenery that was lost elsewhere.”

 

In total, the investment for the construction of the Thames Road route was around €300 million, of which €62 million was paid as a subsidy by the European Union. The Port Authority and the State paid the remaining amount. The current Calandbrug will be renovated and remain available for road traffic. The official opening is on 15 November.

Good news

The chimney pipes of the petrochemical plant sparkle in the sun. We walk between the one-meter-high soundproof walls along the route. The walls, made of a mix of concrete and wood chips, dampen the sound quite well. My photographer is less than ten meters away but can no longer hear me when I say something to him. “The shape and the open material absorb sound enormously,” says Steven de Mos. A job well done.

Steven de Mos radiates pride. And rightly so. “With the arrival of the Theemswegtracé, the prognosis is that in 2030 two hundred and twenty-one trains will pass through there every day. The capacity bottleneck for rail traffic caused by the bridge openings has thus been resolved.”

And that is excellent news for the capacity of rail freight traffic in and out of the Port of Rotterdam.

You might also be interested in

Intermodal transportation is interesting for larger volumes

7 - 12 - 2021
Transporting volumes via a combination of modalities with the railways as the pivot: there is still much to be gained. We speak to shippers who…

The first freight train runs over Hoekse Lijn metro tracks

1 - 12 - 2021
A unique event: yesterday, the first freight train ran over the Hoekse Lijn metro line. The freight trains that will be using this track will…

Optimizing water and foam jets for emergency routes

23 - 11 - 2021
For the five railway yards in the Port of Rotterdam, ProRail makes clever use of a computer model to determine from which distance it is…

Poll

Poll 2: are being overtaken by other modalities

Stay informed?

Subscribe to the newsletter

Latest news

Sein op groen voor de Maasvlakte shuttle van Trimodal Europe B.V.

30 - 09 - 2022
Sinds eind juli is de Maasvlakte Shuttle van Trimodal Europe operationeel. De trein onderhoudt acht keer per week een dienst tussen het Rail Service Centrum…

Verslag van Wereldhavendagen 2022 - rail excursie i.s.m. Bertschi Rotterdam

5 - 09 - 2022
Tijdens de wereldhavendagen hebben we in samenwerking met Bertschi en Prorail een succesvolle excursie georganiseerd waar bezoekers de mogelijkheid hebben gekregen om de Rotterdamse haven…

Showcase - Solines B.V. & Port of Moerdijk

22 - 08 - 2022
Solines B.V. kiest al sinds het begin 2000 voor vervoer per spoor, van het Duitse Rurhgebied Noordrijn-Westfalen naar Port of Moerdijk. Sinds 2013 heeft het…

Rail Terminal Roundtable – OOC Terminals B.V. (Oss)

17 - 08 - 2022
Tijdens de eerste round table in samenwerking met OOC Terminals in Oss zijn de perspectieven vanuit verlader, logistiek dienstverlener en de gemeente besproken.

Multimodale samenwerking Michael Kors en EGS

28 - 06 - 2022
Voor het dagelijkse vervoer vanaf de Rotterdamse Maasvlakte naar het distributiecentrum in Venlo heeft Michael Kors aan EGS de regie gegeven over de planning en…

Vlogs: EU Year of Youth

13 - 06 - 2022
Rail Cargo vlogs - Jaar van de Jongeren. Dit keer nemen Wietse Bruinsma en Isa Prins een vlog op met Vincent Krijgsman van European Gateway…

Contact us

Do you have questions about the initiative Rail Freight, The Future is Ours? Would you like to become an ambassador? Or are you considering transporting goods by rail? Then please contact us. Leave a message with your details and we will contact you within 2 working days.

Leave a Reply