DFDS acquires rail operator and launches new rail business unit

The Danish international logistics company DFDS acquired the German rail operator primeRail. The two parties signed the acquisition agreement last week after two years of cooperation. “This is the starting point of the new DFDS business unit rail”, said the Danish company, which aims to expand its rail offerings.

The two companies have been in close cooperation since 2020 when DFDS launched its “Intermodal Transport Competence Centre” in Cologne. Together with primeRail, DFDS utilised this centre to enhance intermodal rail solutions for its customers. Two years later, intermodal ambitions and environmental commitments led the company to invest in its own rail business unit.

New rail business and enhanced offerings

Launching a new rail business unit for a global supply chain player is quite the news. DFDS has been offering rail freight transport solutions but in partnership with rail companies, as the past collaboration with primeRail also suggests.

For instance, the Danish logistics firm recently launched an intermodal connection from Turkey to Europe via Séte in France. This service is quite diverse since it also provides customers with a link to Calais in Northern France and a gateway to the UK. The Turkey-Germany link was organised with primeRail, while the French Séte-Calais link involves SNCF Logistics’ rail freight subsidiary, VIIA.

The partnership with primeRail has focused on transport between ports and inland European terminals. The rail operator also assisted DFDS on the route between Turkey and Germany. Therefore, their proven cooperation will now provide space for more rail solutions. “primeRail will operate as a new business area Rail in DFDS covering primeRail and the existing DFDS intermodal business. The Rail business area is organised within the Mediterranean business unit and headed by Patrick Zilles, currently CEO of primeRail”, explained DFDS.

“For us, this is an important strategic step. We have been looking for the right partners with the same value set and commercial orientation as DFDS. primerRail fulfils this, and it is a perfect match, ” said Gellert Pedersen, executive vice president and head of ferry division at DFDS.

Focus on Turkey

DFDS will keep focusing on its expertise area of linking Turkey with European terminals. With primeRail’s acquisition, the market might see more intermodal services offered in this route by DFDS, on top of the ones already launched.

“Since we acquired our Turkish route network in mid-2018, we have learned how valuable train solutions can prove to our business model and network. We extend our network, and with the increasing focus on green solutions, it’s a natural step to develop our train set-up further. We see an increasing demand for rail transport combined with our ferry routes and logistics services. Partnering with primeRail allows us to offer additional intermodal solutions. Customers can drop off units at our terminals in Turkey and pick them up in Europe very close to the end destinations”, emphasised Lars Hoffmann, head of Mediterannean business unit at DFDS.

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Author: Nikos Papatolios

Nikos Papatolios is editor of RailFreight.com, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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