Photo: Rob Dammers, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Rail freight transport declined almost 12% in the Netherlands last year

Year-on-year rail freight volumes declined almost 12% in the Netherlands in 2023 according to official data.

You can read this article in 3 minutes

New data published by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) has revealed that in 2023, the country recorded a substantial decline in rail freight transport.

A total of 39.3 million tonnes of goods were transported by rail, marking a near 12% decrease from the record high of 2022.

According to Statistics Netherlands, the downturn was primarily due to a significant reduction in the transportation of coal and goods containers.

Containers, which account for nearly 44% of rail freight by weight, saw an 11.5% decrease, dropping to 17.3 million tonnes. The number of containers transported also mirrored this decline.

The majority of these containers are linked to trade routes involving Germany and Italy. Notably, the domestic transportation of goods in containers within the Netherlands experienced a steep decline of 27.9%, from 2.2 million tonnes to 1.6 million tonnes.

Cross-border and domestic transport

The majority of rail freight in the Netherlands is destined for international markets, with a significant portion loaded domestically and unloaded abroad.

However, the volume of exported freight fell to 24.0 million tonnes, a 12% drop compared to the previous year. Coal transport to Germany, a significant component of this trade, plummeted by 22.3%.

On the import side, the Netherlands received 10.1 million tonnes of freight from Germany, which represents a 4% decline. This reduction was predominantly due to a decrease in goods transported in containers (down by 10.%) and a substantial drop in metal ores and other minerals (down by 38.3%).

In contrast, bulk imports of products from the agriculture, forestry, and fisheries sector, such as cereal crops and maize, saw a notable increase of 45.3%.

The decline was not confined to international trade either. Domestic transport fell by 27.33%, while transit trade dropped by 15.8%

The figures are in stark contrast to the ones released a year ago, when it was revealed that 44.5 million tonnes of goods had been transported over Dutch railways in 2022. This was 4.3 percent more than in the previous year and, at the same time, the highest gross transported weight ever measured by Statistics Netherlands.

Photo: Rob Dammers, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons