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[BE/NL] LINEAS 513-10 stars on Iron Rhine with new Geleen Xpress

Home Stadler Rail Valencia JT42HW-HS [BE/NL] LINEAS 513-10 stars on Iron Rhine with new Geleen Xpress

LINEAS 513-10 travelling from Antwerp to Geleen, where it will pick up the first train, near Weert in the Netherlands on 30 November 2017. Picture by Andy Engelen.

On 30 November 2017, LINEAS 513-10 travelled from Antwerp to Geleen for a trial run of the operator's eyed Geleen Xpress link between Antwerp (BE) and Geleen (NL). In Geleen, the loco picked up a rake of tank wagons. Geleen is well-known for housing Chemelot, a large chemical site where companies such as DSM and Sabic are located. For a while now, the site also houses its own terminal: Rail Terminal Chemelot.

The route the train took is a remarkable one, as it has been seldom used by trains in recent years. It concerns the Dutch and Belgian part of the Iron Rhine, which used to connect the Port of Antwerp with the German Ruhrgebiet. At the moment, only the section between Belgium and the Netherlands is operational. Since its closure in 1991, there have been many discussions about re-opening the line for freight trains. Discussions about a full re-opening are still going on and even comprise the potential re-alignment of the section from the Netherlands to Germany.

The Belgian-Dutch part of the route has been activated several years ago, but regular usage has never really come to fruition. Apart from the festive re-opening train, which was run by B Logistics at the time, only few trains have operated on it. The last train on the line was run by fellow Belgian operator Railtraxx on 26 May 2016, hauling a steel train to Aachen-West.

With the plan to run a freight shuttle between Antwerp and Geleen, regular use of the railway is in sight again. Furthermore, the Dutch government has planned the allocation of money for electrification of the line across the Belgian border to Weert, in light of extending Belgian passenger services to the Dutch city.

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