Rail freight transport at unprecedented level in 2022

© Hollandse Hoogte / Robin Utrecht
In 2022, 44.5 million tonnes of goods were transported over Dutch railways. This is 4.3 percent more than in the previous year and, at the same time, the highest gross transported weight ever measured by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) . The growth was mainly caused by more coal and container freight. CBS reports this based on newly released figures.

Rail freight transport
JarenTransported weight (x million tonnes)

More container freight

Nearly 44 percent of the total weight of rail freight is carried in containers. In 2022, container freight increased by 4.7 percent to 19.6 million tonnes relative to 2021.

The total number of TEUs rose by 3.7 percent. A large portion of the container goods leaving and entering the Netherlands go to or come from Germany and Italy. In 2022, the flows of container goods to and from these countries increased by 12.0 percent and 5.6 percent, respectively.

More coal and less metal ore

After container goods, most commonly carried through the Netherlands by rail are the bulk goods coal and metal ore. In 2022, coal transport was up by 28.6 percent year on year. Other common types of goods were carried less compared to the previous year. Metal ore transport declined by 10.6 percent while metal transport including steel decreased by 16.1 percent. Transport of chemical products fell slightly by 1.5 percent.

Rail freight transport by type of goods
Goederensoort2022 (x million tonnes)2021 (x million tonnes)
Container goods19.618.7
Coal and lignite,
crude oil and natural gas
Metal ores and other minerals4.85.3
Chemical products and synthetic or
man-made fibres
Basic metals, fabricated metal products, excl. machinery and equipment2.32.8
Other goods4.94.9

Both inland and international transport up

Most rail freight is loaded in the Netherlands and unloaded abroad. This goods flow was 27.2 million tonnes in 2022, i.e. 5.6 percent more than in the previous year. In particular coal transport to Germany increased, by 27.8 percent. Inbound freight from Germany stood at 10.5 million tonnes, representing a rise by 2.8 percent. This increase mainly consisted of container freight (+ 2.9 percent), as well as agricultural, forestry and fishery products which are carried in bulk (+ 35.6 percent). Products in the latter group include, among other products, wheat and maize.

Rail freight in transit, which means going from a foreign departure point to a foreign destination via Dutch railways, and inland rail transport both increased last year, by 3.1 and 0.6 percent, respectively.

Transported weight by transport direction
Richting2022 (x million tonnes)2021 (x million tonnes)