Sugar beets on rails: RCG sets up dedicated agricultural services

Image: RCG/David Payr

Between October 2023 and January 2024, ÖBB Rail Cargo Group freight trains in Austria and Hungary will be busy serving a particular segment of the agricultural sector. Sugar beets and their transport will be the company’s sole focus in collaboration with sugar manufacturer AGRANA. The dedicated transport solution follows the sugar processing peak season or the annual sugar beet campaign, as AGRANA described it.

The sugar manufacturer started processing sugar beets in its Austrian refineries in Tulln and Leopoldsdorf, a process that repeats at the same season every year. According to RCG, when it comes to such services, detailed long-term planning is already in place. Nevertheless, the process of organising the services needs to be done as quickly as possible in terms of allocating and organising the needed resources like employees or rolling stock, including locomotives and carriages.

As the peak sugar beet processing season is already here, RCG trains are already in transit on a daily basis, with refined products finding their way within Austria but also towards Hungary.

Almost 1.5 million tonnes in Austria

At nearly 36 collection points in Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Burgenland, Styria, and Carinthia, sugar beets are collected and loaded onto trains. Every day, up to 13 trains – either in a single wagonload or in a unit train – carry loads of up to 1,400 net tonnes to the refineries. In total, this amounts to approximately 2,6 million tonnes of conventional sugar beet and 40,000 tonnes of organic sugar beet, cultivated on over 36,000 hectares of farmland. More than half of these sugar beet transports can be attributed to RCG. An estimated 365,000 train kilometres will have been covered by the end of January – a distance that could circle the equator almost ten times.

Up to 470,000 tonnes in Hungary

The Hungarian subsidiary of RCG has also started transporting sugar beets. Until the end of January 2024, they will be handling four trains daily, covering more than 150,000 kilometres over the course of the campaign. Starting from approximately 40 shipping points, RCG is expected to transport between 450,000 to 470,000 tonnes to the Magyar Cukor Zrt sugar refinery in the coming months.

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