This city in the ‘middle of the middle’ knows its logistics value
The city of Lodz in Poland is destined to be a logistics hub, and there are plenty of investment opportunities for those who want to be included. This was the main message of the city, when it hosted the RailFreight Summit on 1-3 September. As soon became clear, these opportunities are interesting propositions for the rail feight
“Lodz lies in the middle of Poland, and Poland in the middle of Europe. Our transport corridors connect to China and Germany, while we also have the Baltic-Adriatic corridor. It only makes sense that the cargo economy is a fundament of our growth”, said the deputy mayor Adam Pustelnik at the summit.
Indeed, the city has been well connected for many years. The first train from China to Europe arrived in Lodz, and until today, the city is still a hub on the New Silk Road. Contargo/Hantrans as well as Spedcont have well understood the potential of the location, and are active players on the Eurasian corridor.
Apart from good rail connections, the third-largest airport of Poland lies in the heart of the city, and its core business is cargo. “We are part of the ‘L cities’ that focus on air cargo, just like Liege and Leipzig”, noted Anna Mideira, CEO of the airport at the conference. The plans of the airport look promising for rail too.
City of opportunities
But let’s start with the city itself. Pustelnik presents an investment map at the summit. “I see 400 hectares of investment areas on this map, in the heart of the city and next to vital international connections. This is something unheard of.” Although many of these areas are already reserved, there are also still quite some that are open for investment, and this is where the city sends out an invitation to the world of logistics.
“During the pandemic, the real estate market has completely turned around. In this period, 18 out of 20 big transactions were industrial. Normally, these transactions are offices, retail, or hotels. But now they are warehouses or factories. This shows how important this sector is”, the deputy mayor said. “We have looked at how we can benefit from this market development, and created the biggest industrial and logistics zone within the administrative borders of a Polish city.”
Adam Pustelnik speaking about the logistics potential of Lodz at the RailFreight Summmit. Text continues below the video.
“Logistics investments are very controversial”, Pustelnik admits, “because they change the ecosystem, are capital intensive and they change the surroundings quite drastically. “However, we believe that logistics has developed and changed over the years. It requires high-skilled labour, much more expertise than before, due to automation for example. We are very proud to have logistics as one of our pillars of economic development.”
What is more, the logistics relevance has been recognised by the market, he added. “According to Prologis, Lodz is the second best logistics location of Europe (after Venlo), and thus the most desired logistics location outside Western Europe”
The airport and rail
As such, the airport has not sat idle. It wants to expand its cargo portfolio, and many of the investment areas are in its backyard. The airport wants to expand its warehousing options by building a new warehouse. Additionally, it aims to improve its connectivity and rail will play a prominent role in that.
Without changing its air transport profile, Łódź Airport wants to enhance the benefits of rail and acquire its own rail tracks that will connect it with the main railway network. In this way, imported or exported cargo will tranship from air to rail and vice versa before continuing its trip. Companies using rail in the region could highly benefit from that, while from an environmental perspective, the airport would use fewer trucks to distribute cargo to other destinations.
Ana Mideira, CEO of Lodz Airport speaking at the RailFreight Summmit. Text continues below the video.
Contargo/Hatrans new terminal
Contargo and Hatrans have also drafted their plans. The two companies have partnered up to construct a whole new terminal, starting by the end of the year. Once it is completed, it will have 100,000 TEUs in capacity. “As this is the eastern-most terminal of Poland next to Malaszewicze, it is a very logical place to be when it comes to China traffic, said Filip Grzelak, member of the board at Hatrans.
Although Hatrans was involved with the very first shipment from China in 2013, it is teaming up with the German Contargo to increase the capacity. “There are a lot of problems in Malaszewicze, such as congestion and delays. Lodz is therefore a good location to be. As it is in the middle of Poland, the last mile options are ideal, and so are the connections that already exist to the west”, he explained. There are a lot of investment opportunities for rail terminals here.”