As part of the ongoing restructuring of B-Cargo, the freight division of Belgium’s national railway NMBS/SNCB, the Group has created a new business unit called Rail Force to focus on the movement of new cars. The new unit will also handle chemicals.
It is the third product-specific group to come out of B-Cargo, which is divesting its direct involvement with wider European commercial operations as it seeks a more regional role as a Belgian partner for other rail companies, such as DB Schenker.
B-Cargo will concentrate on its core activity of pure rail traction.
All commercial operations have now been transferred to daughter companies under the InterFerryBoats umbrella (IFB). Alongside Rail Force are XPedys for bulk and steel movements, and IFB itself, which has largely integrated the intermodal activity of TRW.
The restructuring represents an attempt to provide B-Cargo’s customers (including automotive) with a more dedicated service for the company’s individual business segments.
The move comes as Belgium’s Port of Antwerp, one of Europe’s busiest finished vehicle ports, concentrates on improvements to logistics. Work on the Leifkenshoek Railway Tunnel, beneath the Scheld river, began last month. It will provide a much-needed expansion of transport capacity between the left and right banks of the port.
“The new cargo-only tunnel will neutralize the bottleneck of the existing Kennedy rail tunnel which mixes freight and passenger traffic and has relatively steep grades,” said the port’s spokesman for Strategy and Development, Koen Cuypers. “The main ro-ro terminals are situated in the port installations on the left bank. As most of the cargo which is loaded of unloaded on the left bank has to cross the river (in the direction of Germany, the Netherlands and France), this new tunnel will surely benefit the rail transport of cars.”
The €840m contract for the tunnel, held by the Locorail consortium, involves the design and construction of 16.2km double-track rail link. It will re-open the existing (but unused) Beveren Tunnel and include a double-bored tunnel with an internal diameter of 7.3m.