Successful pilot project makes DPD launch another rail service

DPD swap body loaded on a train. Photo: © Kombiverkehr Kombiverkehr

The pilot project of transporting DPD’s parcels on rail between Duisburg and Hamburg paid off. The German company will trust Kombiverkehr with another rail parcel service, this time between Duisburg and Leipzig. With five roundtrips per week, the additional service could help DPD make rail “an integral part of its long-distance transport services.”

The Duisburg-Leipzig services will run five weekly roundtrips carrying four swap bodies from DPD in each direction. As a result, the trains run by Kombiverkehr will not be dedicated only to DPD. But that is the service’s and the pilot project’s greatest advantage, according to the parcel company. “Thanks to Kombiverkehr, we don’t need to fill a complete train but can book individual swap bodies onto existing routes”, mentioned Anke Förster, chief network planning and optimisation officer at DPD, when the first services between Duisburg and Hamburg commenced in June.

Connecting hubs and more

With the Duisburg-Leipzig link, DPD now connects some of its major hubs by rail. The company has clear goals: “as early as 2023, around 5 per cent of national DPD freight traffic is to be handled by rail”, the company says. The percentage might not seem impressive at first sight; however, it’s a significant first step for a company solely using rail transport until a couple of months ago.

Especially in the intermodal context, turning to rail can be quite complex for a parcel company. “Our long-term goal is climate-neutral logistics. This can prove quite challenging since an additional means of transport means more complexity, and at the same time, we want to make sure we keep our service promises,” said Förster a few months ago. In the end, the service promises were kept, at least for the first Duisburg-Hamburg pilot service, resulting in another parcel rail service.

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Author: Nikos Papatolios

Nikos Papatolios is the Chief Editor of, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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