Rail freight operators call for more freight on rail

Rail Freight Forward is a European association of rail freight operators who are strongly committed to dramatically reducing the negative impact of freight transport on mobility and the climate. This European interest association is composed of 18 members.

The Belgian Rail Freight Forum brings together rail freight operators active in Belgium. One of the Forum’s ambitions is to double the volumes of goods transported by rail in Belgium and Europe. With a current transport model of 74% road transport and the forecasted 30% growth of the transport sector by 2030, a modal shift to goods transport by rail is a better socioeconomic solution for combatting the negative impacts on mobility, climate and health.

What do we want?

Driving a train through the country must become just as easy as driving a truck. 

The ambition of the Forum is to increase the share of rail freight transport in Belgium from 10% to 16%  by 2030. 

Why is this necessary?

Freight transport expects an increase of 30% by 2030.

Freight transport in Belgium as well as in Europe is going to rise by 30% by 2030. Accelerated and dramatic innovation and investments in additional road capacity will not bring any relief. With the expected rise in demand for mobility and an unmodified policy, mobility is creating its own downfall.

It is imperative to work urgently on shifting freight transport from road to rail. Rail is a real and sustainable alternative that is readily available without major investments.

How can we achieve this shift?

By getting railway companies, infrastructure managers and policy makers in Belgium and Europe involved in the implementation of this modal shift.

We are working on 3 pillars: 


The rail sector must continue to offer superior innovative products to serve its customers.


The infrastructure manager must guarantee that it fulfils its mission in a customer-oriented manner and respect the timetables at all times.


The policy must ensure that transport by rail is just as easy and inexpensive as truck transports

Read more in our White paper

The government support that rail freight transport receives is only a fraction of that devoted to road transport, whereas the negative social impact caused by road transport is a multiple of that caused by rail. This doesn’t even touch upon the significant savings on potential fines due to failing to meet the Paris climate objectives. In any case, it is not an investment, but rather the largest social savings operation ever:

€ 1 million invested = € 1 billion in social benefits

Policy makers are being offered an opportunity to develop a green and efficient transport system that can guarantee Belgium’s role as economic hub in Europe. The rail operators want to be full partners in the policy.

What are the advantages?

It creates room for economic growth, constitutes a concrete solution for the impending mobility crisis and is an effective way to limit the harm to society. It is also a source of competitiveness and employment for our country.

If the rail operators, Infrabel and the government take parallel actions to stimulate the modal shift to rail:

  • we ensure a multimodal, ecological and efficient freight transport in Europe and Belgium,
  • Belgium can further develop its role as logistical hub in Europe by capitalising on the 30% transport growth,
  • we can take around 90,000 trucks off the road per year by 2030, prevent 1.5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions and 2,000 tonnes of particulate matter… and we can generate almost 1 billion euros in social benefits each year (i.e. by saving more than half a billion euros in costs to society and by creating 466 million euros of added value).

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