Skip to main content
Iron Rhine

Iron Rhine

Arguing about the Iron Rhine

Until 1991, freight trains rumbled via the Iron Rhine - also called the Steel Rhine - from the Belgian port of Antwerp to the German Ruhr area.

Because freight transport went downhill, the Dutch Railway operator closed the route between Roermond and the German border in the early 1990s.

This brought an end to the 160-kilometer-long Iron Rhine, which dates from 1879 and consists of four still partly active railway lines.

Political jousting

From then on, the freight trains had to go via the Belgian town of Montzen, the southern route, which is 50 kilometers longer and struggles with capacity problems.

According to Jan Schuermans (Het Nieuwsblad, 2004), the Belgian train operator NMBS contributed to the Iron Rhine's demise by investing heavily in the Montzen section for political reasons.

Reactivation on the agenda

Since 1999, Belgium (especially the region of Flanders) has been pushing to reactivate the Iron Rhine. In 2006, former Flemish Prime Minister Yves Leterme consulted with his Dutch colleague Balkenende about the route: "We would like to see the Iron Rhine in full use by 2015," Leterme hoped.

But several obstacles ensure a status quo:

3RX via Venlo

In February 2015, Flemish Minister for Mobility Ben Weyts launched a study into three possible routes. The Rhein-Ruhr Rail Connection (3RX) seemed the best option. It avoids the Meinweg nature reserve by taking a detour via Venlo. This also appears cheaper than constructing the route along the A52 motorway.

Dalhaim station in Germany. From here, the railway route is back in use for passenger transport. The traces of the Iron Rhine are visible between the grass, parallel to track 1.

How To Get There?
Gain Access to all of the information!

  • Get access to all practical information to prepare your visit, for example addresses, GPS-coordinates and instructions how to legally visit this venue.
  • Discover this location on a detailed map.
  • Get instructions how to get there, together with extra info for walkers and bikers.
  • Discover more interesting places nearby.
  • Explore hundreds of other hidden landmarks on the interactive heritage map.
  • Download the Hidden Monuments 2024 travel guide with 10 hand-picked destinations off the beaten track across Europe.

Become a member only 49,90 euro / year

Already subscribed? Log In

Discover more

Find sites in or discover more

Latest from the blog