AB InBev switches from road to rail in Antwerp

Brewing conglomerate AB InBev intends to transport the lion’s share of its beer in the port of Antwerp using trains.  The move should take 5,000 lorries off the Antwerp ring road each and every year.

AB InBev is the world’s biggest beer brewer exporting beer from Belgium to 100 countries. Every day countless trucks transport the beer from its production site in Leuven (Flemish Brabant) to the port of Antwerp. In this way millions of litres of Stella Artois are shipped to the US and Canada.

The lorries arrive at a storehouse on the Antwerp Right Bank and the beer then needs to be transported to the Left Bank to be put on ships.  These final kilometres will now be completed by train.  AB InBev says the train is more ecological and quicker and avoids lorries having to be stuck in jams on the ring.

Transport economist Thierry Van Elslander (Antwerp University) has praised the initiative, but adds it won’t make much difference.  “Each day the 50,000 lorries use the Antwerp ring.”

Van Elslander believes it’s not a bad idea giving train transport a higher profile. Many businesses stick with road transport out of convention despite the congestion on the ring and investments in rail. He adds that it’s also far easier to rent a truck than to organise a rail transport that apparently involves red tape. Shorter distances are usually cheaper by road than by rail.  Usually rail transport is only seen as viable over distances of 300 km.