Illustrative image. Photo: Pixabay

Eight free, real-time rail platforms that you may want to bookmark

Image: Pixabay.

During the longer than 10,000-kilometres journey between China-Europe, trains pass through many countries and regions. At the same time, the cargo gets handled by multiple different parties, a fact that makes the efficient information flow between various links vital. In this era of rapid technological development and digitalisation, the tracking of a shipment does no longer rely solely on human wisdom. Instead, some practical information tools can change the rules of the game and make a big difference.

Not familiar with offshore sites? Not sure about the border traffic? Not sure how to properly plan a cost-effective route? Unaware of prices and capacity in international rail markets? Then the following sites, which provide free search tools for real-time information on cross-border rail transportation, might be the solution you are looking for.

This article compiles a list of eight useful information sites that cover all aspects of overseas rail transport. The sites are:

1. ERAI: Cost of container transportation on the New Silk Road (real-time).
2. SixFold: Truck border crossing times between European countries (real-time).
3. AGORA: Brings together information on intermodal terminals throughout Europe.
4. Intermodal Links: European multimodal route planning assistant.
5. Navigate: International multimodal connectivity.
6. Load Calculator: Container loading guide
7. Shippeo: Capacity restoration in European supply chains under outbreak (real-time)
8. ExternalCost: Additional cost calculator for European shipments

1. ERAI: Eurasian railway container transport costs

The ERAI, Eurasian Rail Alliance Index, is a digital platform supported by the UTLC. As more and more container trains transit the CIS, shippers, consignees, transport and forwarding companies need constant access to the latest market information to maintain market stability.

In the Statistics section, you can view specific data changes by route, shipment type, or forwarding service.

2. SixFold: truck transit times between European countries (real-time)\\

The need to control the epidemic has led to increased inspection and even closure of European borders. Consequently, delays in border crossings have prevented a large number of suppliers from delivering goods on time. To ensure the efficient flow of goods between outbreaks, especially for “last mile” shipments, SixFold designed this website to provide real-time updates on truck transit times.

On the map, different border crossings are marked with dots of different colours and sizes to indicate their traffic conditions, with busyness levels of red > orange > green. By moving the mouse over the dots, you can see the waiting times and queues in both directions. You can also provide the site with first-hand information that you have.

3. AGORA: Multimodal terminals across Europe

AGORA aggregates the most comprehensive information on European intermodal transport terminals. The provided data concern terminal operators, the port or logistics centre where the terminal is located, the company to which the terminal belongs, or even the national or regional government where the terminal is located. All these combined information make the specific site very reliable.

As shown in the picture below, you can type the name of the site in the search bar, or select the corresponding city and country. All locations will then be displayed at the bottom.

In the case of Adampol station in Malasevic, for example, after selecting a site, the web page will show basic information related to it (location, operator’s website and contact information, operating hours). Additionally, one can acquire insights with regards to the infrastructure (site area, loading and unloading equipment, tracks, storage space), and services offered by the site. In short, the site’s information is displayed at a glance.

4. Intermodal links: International multimodal route planning assistant

The Intermodal Links Planner brings together the services of rail, barge and short-sea European operators, and provides access to all viable intermodal routes from nearby stations by merely entering the origin and destination. The search results are arranged in order of recommendation and provide information on route combinations, transit times, number of transfers, frequency of shipments on the route, and more.

5. Navigate: International multimodal connectivity

Navigate, the international intermodal route planning platform of the Port of Rotterdam works by entering the origin and destination and selecting the ranking of the search results (including least carbon footprint, least number of transfers, earliest arrival and shortest delivery time), and the expected mode of transport.

The search displays a comparison of all available routes and a timeline showing the combination of modes for each route. Clicking on “Detail” at the end of an individual route will also provide complete information about it.

6. Load Calculator: Container loading guide

Load Calculator is a website that simulates the loading of containers and trucks to help you better plan your loading space and the placement of particular items. This guide consists of eight steps: Select Container Type → Select Cargo Package → Cargo Size and Weight → Loading Form → Pallet Information (if available) → Container Summary → Cargo Placement → Get a loading solution.

7. Shippeo: Capacity recovery of the European supply chain under the epidemic

This digital map, updated in real-time, shows the recovery and trends in the European supply chain in the event of an outbreak, with coloured bright dots indicating factory and warehouse operations. Hover your mouse over a country’s territory, and the left-hand column shows the blockade measures in place and their duration.

8. ExternalCost: Additional cost calculator for European shipments

EternalCost is a tool developed with the support of the International Union of Railways (UIC) to calculate the additional cost of freight (climate change and traffic accidents). By entering the origin and destination of a shipment on the website, one can obtain a report on the additional costs of each mode of transport. This calculation intends to encourage freight transporters to take environmental and social impacts into account when choosing a mode of transportation.

If you also have a useful tool to recommend, feel free to share it with us in the comment section!

This article is a translation of the original on The translation was done by Nikos Papatolios.

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Author: Steven Don

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