Rhenus News

From road to rail: modal shift at the Gateway Basel Nord

The Gateway Basel Nord and the Swiss Rhine ports (Schweizerische Rheinhäfen) are planning a key project in Basel to shift freight traffic from road to rail. To this end, the companies presented a nature conservation concept to the Federal Office for the Environment (BAFU) in October.

The main north-south axes of road, rail and waterways meet at the Basel Rhine ports - the only point in Switzerland where they meet. 92 percent of the containers arriving here by ship are currently transported onward by road, while only eight percent are loaded onto rail.

"With the realisation of Gateway Basel Nord, at least 50 percent of the containers will be transported by rail in future," explains Andreas Stöckli, Member of the Rhenus Group Board. "This will save 100,000 truck journeys a year and reduce noise, air pollution and greenhouse gases," he says.

Until 20 years ago there was a Deutsche Bahn marshalling yard where the new transhipment terminal is to be built. After it was closed down, numerous animal and plant species settled there and a 20-hectare dry meadow and pasture area was created.

In order to carry out the development of the area for the new terminal, the law requires those responsible to find an equivalent replacement. The compensation measures are subject to strict legal requirements imposed by the BAFU.

With the support of biologists and environmental scientists, Gateway Basel Nord and the Swiss Rhine ports have now developed a concept that will upgrade four times as much area in Basel and the surrounding area to new dry grassland sites as will be built over by the future transhipment terminal and port basin 3.

In addition, the Gateway and the adjacent NEAT feeder line of the German Railways will leave a continuous 60-metre wide networking corridor, so that species can continue to migrate in the Upper Rhine plain.

A total of 11.5 hectares of land will be used as part of the Gateway Basel Nord transhipment terminal, only part of which will be sealed. The rest will remain as railway tracks and gravel. The 45.8 hectares of ecological replacement areas are divided into 20 hectares at the Muttenz marshalling yard and 10.7 hectares on railway sidings and along the Birsfelden/Auhafen port railway. In addition, 8.6 hectares have been established at Lange Erlen and 6.5 hectares in the Hard area in Pratteln. This fulfils the central requirement of networking the dry locations.

Ecological upgrading measures are planned for the settlement of animal and plant species, creating new dry-warm habitats such as species-rich dry meadows or dry-warm forest habitats.

The quality of upgrading measures is measured by the BAFU using so-called nature points. Here the concept exceeds the number of nature points lost due to the construction of the new gateway and for the connection to the port basins.

"The ecological concept for the trimodal terminal Gateway Basel Nord shows that we are aware of our responsibility to strengthen the migration corridors in the Upper Rhine plain and to promote dry-warm habitats in the region," concluded Andreas Stöckli.