‘The coal train’ offers Rotterdam-Alps hybrid service

A hybrid freight service is making dual use of traditional containers to move both dry goods and and ore between The Netherlands and the Austrian Alps. Nicknamed ‘the coal train’, the Rotterdam-Linz shuttle is utilising Eanos wagons, which have traditionally been used for just one type of cargo. 

The Linz Shuttle first started moving between Rotterdam and Austria last November, and at first sight the service appears to be a normal train with open, high-walled goods wagons. This service however arrives from the Alps filled with containers, but returns full of ore.

‘Elongated bath tub’

First used on Dutch freight lines more than 20 years ago, Eanos wagons – described as an ‘elongated bath tub’ on four axles – are traditionally used to transport dry bulk. But the Austrian firm ILG innovative logistics group GmbH decided to load its train with containers on its return trip from Linz. The service comprises 34 Eanos wagons, with a total capacity of 64 TEU. Currently operating once a week, ILG expects to extend this to three from April.

Wolfgang Klepatsch, of ILG, said “The big advantage of this wagon type is that it allows us to load far heavier containers than the ones transported by a regular container train. We can now load 2,150 tonnes of cargo per run – a substantial increase.

“They are all heavy 20-foot containers that can hold at least 25 tonnes, filled with rolls of high-grade steel. On the return trip, we take along bulk materials for Voestalpine. While this does mean having to get the wagons cleaned in Austria each time round, this minor inconvenience is definitely outweighed by the benefits.”

‘The coal train’

Roy de Haan, Account Manager at APM Terminals Rotterdam, said: “It’s truly a great concept. I’m chuffed that they’ve asked us to take part. The containers are first unloaded at APM’s terminal at Maasvlakte 2. After this, the shuttle proceeds to the facility that loads it up with ore for the return trip. That’s why around here, it’s been nicknamed the ‘coal train’.”

Author: Simon Weedy

Simon is a journalist for RailFreight.com - a dedicated online platform for all the news about the rail freight sector

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