Rail feeder innovation

Innovations make rail transport in the port more efficient and make rail transport an appealing, full-fledged alternative amongst other modalities.



Transport of containers by rail from Rotterdam must increase fivefold by 2035. Rail transport must therefore become more appealing in order to be able to compete with other modalities. Simultaneously, the increase in rail transport has to take place on the current infrastructure. This means that rail use has to become more efficient. What innovative measures can be taken to make rail use more appealing and more efficient? Research has been done on the possibilities of digitization and automation of processes and of different rail concepts with regard to, for example, routing and train lengths.


  • Shortening of port dwell time through digitization – By using data from the various parties involved (e.g.: exchange of data between terminal and train), handling and dwelling time is improved.
  • Optimizing the routing of container trains – How do the trains transport containers to and from the terminals: through a so-called milk run along multiple terminals or with shuttle trains to individual terminals.
  • Optimize the length of trains.


  • Data Sharing – Sharing data from the different chain partners is necessary to optimize processes. Examples include loading and unloading of trains and organizing sufficient volumes to run trains. The willingness to make the right data available and to collaborate closely are crucial to a successful rollout.
  • Organization – Factors such as intensifying the use of existing infrastructure, automation, data exchange and new ways of working require adjustments in rail governance.
  • Regulations – Regulations will need to be adjusted to realize innovations.


  • Savings – Shorter waiting times, shorter dwell time, shorter turnaround time, lower the costs of rail transport.
  • Better use of capacity – Automation, smarter processes, close collaboration, available infrastructure capacity is utilized well.
  • The image of rail transport improves: The rail transport product becomes more appealing and becomes a full-fledged alternative amongst the other modalities.


Erasmus University Rotterdam, TNO, TU Delft, the Port of Rotterdam and ProRail.

Rail feeder innovation

“Optimizing the feedering process is essential to make Rotterdam’s rail product competitive! Cooperation between the various parties concerned, data exchange and coordination of feedering processes are crucial!”

Maurits van Schuylenburg

Port of Rotterdam Authority

Direct contact

More information

Contact our project developer Roy van den Berg for more information about these and other projects and how you can be part of the SmartPort Community.

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