‘Time for rail is now’, Ocean meets Rail event told

‘Now is the time to start using rail freight’ – the words of Cor Hoenders, former Dutch Railwayman of the Year, to a Port of Rotterdam networking event promoting the benefits of rail freight. ‘Ocean meets rail’ attracted more than 80 representatives of rail operating companies and their shipping counterparts.

With low water levels on the rivers and the increasingly crowded roads creating more and more opportunities for rail shuttles to make an impact, rail operators were given the chance to present themselves in the market place. A series of workshops highlighting the benefits of rail freight were also held.

Positive outlook

Success factors when starting a rail shuttle was the subject of a workshop moderated by Mr Hoenders, who in 2012 was voted Rail Personality of the Year in The Netherlands. He was previously director of the Rail Service Centre (RSC) for rail freight transport in the Port of Rotterdam, so is more qualified than most to champion the benefits of moving cargo by rail.

“This is the first step towards a positive outlook on all the possibilities rail has to offer – the moment to get into rail is now.” he told delegates.

European destinations

Another workshop focused on the cooperation between European destinations, with representatives from GVT Intermodal, the Chengdu China Connection, telling organisers that it had been ‘really interesting to see’ what is happening in the Western European railway section. “We can learn from all the different outlooks on the gateways to Europe, and we will take this into consideration when managing our own connections,” was one comment.

The final workshop was all about the possibilities in central and eastern Europe. It took a close look into how all parties approach the logistics of cross-border transfers, with different carriers explaining which countries are most favourable for them to do business with and what it takes for port authorities to facilitate this.

More interactive

Rick Klijnhout, Procurement Manager North Europe, Rail & Barge from Maersk Line, said: “This year’s Ocean Meets Rail is a lot more interactive than it was last year, because of the workshops. It’s nice to know how different companies address the same topics, so we can work together in finding solutions. In addition, this event fits really well into the recently announced strategic direction of Maersk – a more collaborative interaction between the various Maersk business units active in Transport and Logistics.”

Christopher Müller, Rail Cargo Operations Manager Maritime North/West, added: “There’s a really positive atmosphere. We can learn, discuss and network at the same time. It’s really nice how the Port of Rotterdam manages to bring the industry together.”

Rotterdam-Munich

The Port of Rotterdam’s strong rail links with the European mainland meanwhile have been strengthened with an extension of the Rotterdam-Bayern Express, which links Rotterdam with Munich. It is being increased from five to six round trips a week from February 7th, operators European Gateway Services (EGS) and TXL Logistik announced. It serves all of the port’s major container terminals, at both the Maasvlakte and in the Maas/Waalhaven area. In southern Germany it will call at the Tricon Container Terminal in Nuremberg and Munich’s Müchen Riem terminal.

Mark van Andel, Director at EGS, said: “A daily connection means we can offer our customers a flexible system. The Rotterdam-Bayern Express is a viable alternative to the traditional route from and to Bavaria via the North German ports.”

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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