The Iron Rhine, the railway connection between the port of Antwerp and the German Ruhr area, was selected by the European Commission in July 2015 in its program of trans-European transport networks. The Iron Rhine is vital to the Flemish economy. Germany is the main trade partner of Flanders. In 2015, the export total to Germany was 50 billion euros. Or, about 20 percent of the total Flemish GDP.
There are various alternative trails: the reactivation of the historical route of the Iron Rhine, the construction of a new railway along the A52 motorway in Germany, and a "third way" proposal. The latter solution is focused on short-term improvements on certain track sections in the Rhine-Ruhr region.
A feasibility study is currently examining three cross-border railways in the triangle Roermond-Venlo-Viersen. This area is strategic in terms of railways: it has great potential to play an important role in the optimization of east-west goods traffic.
Flanders has a vested interest in the realisation of the Iron Rhine Project. The Government of Flanders will increase diplomatic efforts with the authorities in the Netherlands, Germany and North Rhine-Westphalia to realize this project.