Ikea onboard Maersk’s train in Spain

Ikea Supply Chain Operations chooses the train to transport products between the port of Barcelona and the Tarragona terminal in Spain. In collaboration with Maersk, the home furnishing products powerhouse decided to switch from road to rail for a distance of 100 kilometres. The route concerns trips to and from its customer warehouse & distribution centre in Valls, Catalonia.

IKEA was previously using trucks to transport products between Barcelona-Valls. However, since September 2020, discussions with Maersk initiated a more eco-friendly transport solution which is now in place. Specifically, Maersk’s train transports IKEA products from Barcelona to Tarragona, covering 100 kilometres. From Tarragona, cargo tranships on lorries for a remaining distance of 30 kilometres to Valls. Thus, the service has a short-distance intermodal profile.

IKEA-Maersk trains in Spain.

Short-distance profile encouraging

Understandably, the importance of worldwide corporations entering the rail transport market is great. Rail freight acquiring such customers translates into two things: firstly, rail is gaining the trust of shippers and big customers due to its efficient performance and competitiveness. Secondly, there is a cultural shift in the mindset of significant shippers who now look to alternative ways of transport instead of just road haulage.

However, the most important aspect of this partnership between Maersk and IKEA is the service’s short-distance profile. Companies choosing rail over long-distance inland transport is one thing because of quite fast transit times, price competitiveness, tailor-made solutions and, last but not least, better environmental performance. However, rail undertaking transportation for such a short distance, traditionally covered by trucks, is something that the whole sector should focus on.

Especially with regards to the customer’s magnitude, one could say that such shifts from road to rail could be the small battles that could win the “war” for modal shift and a greener European transport future. Moreover, the same solution has already been applied successfully by IKEA and Maersk between Vado and Piasenca in Italy, making the Spanish case look even more feasible.

Footprint the main prerequisite

For IKEA, the point for turning to rail solutions lies in its environmental goals. “IKEA´s goal is to become climate positive by 2030. For us, in IKEA Supply Chain Operations, this translates into reducing the emissions from every transport that we do by an average of -70%. We believe in a diversified portfolio of solutions to decarbonise transportation, and there is no silver bullet. It is through innovative collaborations and close partnerships with our service providers, like Maersk, that we can make the needed, ambitious steps to reach our goal”, commented Elisabeth Munck af Rosenschöld, Sustainability Manager in IKEA Supply Chain Operations.

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Author: Nikos Papatolios

Editor at RailFreight.com

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