In 2021, 42.6 million tonnes of goods were transported over Dutch railways. This is 6.5 percent up on the previous year. Inbound and outbound rail freight transport increased by 10.1 (inbound) and 9.5 (outbound) percent. The decline was recorded in both domestic transport and rail transit. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this based on newly released figures.
Containers transit by rail
In 2021, the volume of rail transport in containers – accounting for nearly 44 percent of the total transported volume – fell by 6.7 percent to 18.7 million tonnes year on year.
Kinds of goods
After containers, most commonly carried through the Netherlands by rail are the bulk goods coal and metal ores. These are predominantly destined for Germany, where they are used inter alia in metal manufacturing and energy supply. In 2021, transport of coal (including crude oil and natural gas) and metal ores (including other minerals) increased by 6.5 and 7.1 percent respectively from the previous year. Transport of metals (including steel) rose by 16.6 percent. On the other hand, transport of chemical products by rail declined (-8.4 percent).
Germany: the main partner country
More than 84 percent of total rail freight transport consists of inbound and outbound flows. The bulk of these goods travels between the Netherlands and Germany. In 2021, rail transport to Germany grew by 10.1 percent from the previous year to 17.7 million tonnes. Not only did coal and metal ore transport increase, but there was also more container transport to Germany (+9.2 percent). At 3.9 million tonnes, the inbound volume of freight from Germany was the same in 2021 as in 2020. Inbound transport from the other major partner countries increased: from Italy by 13.2 percent and from Belgium by 22.8 percent.
As for transit trade, which accounts for over 8 percent of total rail freight transport, most of the goods are carried from Belgium to Germany via the Netherlands and vice versa. In 2021, transit trade from Belgium to Germany grew by 8.4 percent to 1.4 million tonnes year on year. The growth was mainly seen in container transport. In the reverse direction, i.e. from Germany to Belgium via the Netherlands, the volume fell by 14.2 percent to 0.9 million tonnes. Transport of food, beverages, and tobacco fell in particular.