The first-ever RailFreight Connects is a wrap, here is a quick recap

Image: ProMedia

Have an investigative journalist say something about the logistics industry at an event where professionals from that same industry gather to do business, and you have all participants at the edge of their seats. That is what happened at the joint opening of RailFreight Connects and Project Cargo in Bremen this week.

The room full of industry players from a large variety of business sectors was quickly filled with opinions about the dominant role of shipping alliances, the benefits of having cheap transport or the role of ports in preserving their environment. When representatives of several European ports sat on stage, the discussion turned to synchronising the high-paced growth of ports with that of the hinterland infrastructure, a challenging task.

This is how the day started on Tuesday 6 September thanks to Maaike Goslinga from the Correspondent. After this, it was time to separate the two audiences as RailFreight Connects and Project Cargo would now run down their own conference programmes. Mario Franzone from the port of Genoa, Andima Ormaetxe Bengoa from the port of Bilbao and Dominik Landa from HHLA took it away and set the scene for the RailFreight Connects.

RailFreight Connects

This was the premiere of RailFreight Connects, a new summit brought to life to bring the rail industry together with ports, terminals and others involved in the supply chain. The challenge was to meet people you normally would not meet, to learn about processes you were less familiar with, and to open eyes and expand comfort zones. Participants were divided into four groups with coloured cards and were asked to form a quartet by exchanging these cards.

In line with this aim, the programme was not the usual rail-oriented agenda. There were presentations about rail infrastructure, timetabling and digital automatic coupling, but also about terminal technology, hyperloop technology and rolling stock financing. There were breakout sessions about war transportation risks, sanctions, and the loading of non-cranable trailers. Participants could also join the breakout sessions of the other summit, about labour shortage or port congestion.

Image: © ProMedia

The Greening Freight Package

The second day was started jointly with the Project Cargo audience again. A firm speech was given by Neele Wesseln from DIE GÜTERBAHNEN, who presented the Greening Freight Package, the fresh-off-the-press proposal of the European Commission. Admittedly, the presentation may have been a little too rail-oriented for the project cargo crowd, but what she said was straightforward. The package has promising points when it comes to capacity management, but the regulatory structure is not very efficient, according to the rail lobbyist.

The message was noted at higher levels, as an advisor to the TRAN committee sat in the audience. “Please provide us with more of such feedback, this is very important”, said Advisor on Transport and Tourism at the European Parliament Hana Rihovsky who, a few minutes later, asked to speak to the audience. “I just want to make sure that you are aware of the deadlines. You can provide input to this proposal until October 2024.”

Connecting all modalities

The two audiences met again at the end of the two days when RailFreight.com announced the launch of a Polish and Spanish version of the website. Did you meet new people? Did anyone make a quartet? Did we connect these two days? The coloured cards may have been a little forgotten, with only two people coming on stage with four coloured cards. But strolling through the networking areas, many new partnerships were spotted. Introductions were made, new collaborations started. Our job as a connector was achieved!

Image: © Marco Raimondi

Author: Marco Raimondi

Marco Raimondi is an editor of RailFreight.com, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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