CEO LTG Cargo: ‘Flexibility is the new normal in logistics’
In a challenging period for the logistics and rail freight industry, Lithuania found itself in the eye of the storm. However, Lithuanian Railways and its freight subsidiary LTG Cargo showcased that companies can circumvent obstacles, develop new ideas and agile planning, and always keep customers in mind. Eglė Šimė, CEO of LTG Cargo, shared her thoughts on these matters in an interview with RailFreight.com.
Eglė Šimė will also be among the keynote speakers of the RailFreight On Tour-The Lithuanian Edition this week on 14 and 15 June in Vilnius, Lithuania. Her presentation titled “Quick shift to a new reality in railway logistics” will tackle how flexibility can be the gamechanger in modern rail freight and logistics. Do you want to learn more about the event? You can check the programme here and register here.
You took over LTG Cargo’s leadership in a turbulent period. How do you assess your service so far? Did you learn any lessons?
Because of the war in Ukraine and the impact of sanctions on operations, which led to a substantial loss of freight, we have taken steps to help our customers and us adapt to the new reality.
In recent months we have been striving to compensate for the losses by actively expanding in Poland and other Western countries and fulfilling the needs of Lithuanian and Ukrainian clients.
Adapting to a changing market requires long and consistent work by the entire team. This period has taught us to think and strategise in shorter terms, in some sense, even to put aside the idea of having the long-term plans carved in stone. To adapt and find new operating methods, we have learnt to react and plan with speed and agility and make bold non-standard decisions.
How easy is it to come up with quick and efficient solutions? Is it a matter of good network, cooperation or just bold decisions?
It does require the focus and determination of the whole team. We have modified the way of work and decision-making. We focus on uniting the team, drawing clear priorities and reacting quickly. Nowadays, we manage to establish new routes and adapt our services in a few months, though previously it may have taken up to a year to deliver a similar result. Also, good collaboration would be impossible without timely exchange of information and maintaining relationships with existing and new clients.
What is LTG Cargo’s primary focus at this point?
At this point, we are aiming to provide the best possible support to Ukraine and Ukrainian clients. We hope that soon we will be able to transport not only grain or, for instance, sunflower oil and corn, but other types of goods as well. To do that, we are partially resuming the operations of LTG Cargo Ukraine, which will once again provide expedition services.
Another objective is the expansion in Poland and Western markets. With LTG Cargo Polska, we intend to provide freight transportation services between different parts of Poland, not only across it. During this year, LTG Cargo and LTG Cargo Polska have mastered new and international ways of operating and providing new services; therefore, we intend to move forward.
Regarding Western routes, our route from Kaunas Intermodal Terminal in Lithuania to Duisburg in Germany started this year and is already a success. We already operate three weekly trains and hope to increase the volume to five weekly trips by the end of the year.
We see this route as the backbone of our international operations, meaning we plan to establish new routes around it. One of the directions we are looking into for new destinations is Italy. We also see potential to expand to Great Britain, the Netherlands and other countries. From another side, we see much potential in renewing the Amber Train route, which would connect Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania for freight transportation by rail.
If you could briefly describe the main logistical strengths of LTG and Lithuania, what would they be?
We are starting to operate as the international hub for intermodal transportation: we gathered great expertise, professional talent and competencies. We have two railway gauges at our disposal, actively operating intermodal terminals in Kaunas, the southern gateway for Rail Baltica and the junction for the vital connection between the new line and the capital Vilnius; and in Šeštokai at the border with Poland. We can load all types of semi-trailers and transport containers, not only general freight wagons. Also, Lithuania provides an excellent sea gate through the ice-free Port of Klaipėda.
What do you expect from the event in Vilnius? And what should the guests expect from LTG?
We are all pleased to welcome the “Railfreight on tour” event and appreciate that Lithuania has been observed as an important hub of railway transport. We look forward to meeting participants from various European countries for mutual discussions on conference topics, such as new corridors, changes in demand and supply balance in logistics, and possibilities to reduce the impact on the environment via intermodality.