Need space? How about folding your container?

4Fold Containers

“On every container space, you can place four foldable containers. This saves 75 per cent of the space on a wagon. Just imagine how much space that is on an entire train”, said Hans Broekhuis from 4Fold Containers in Railfreight Live last week.

It is not just space. Think of all the empty containers that are transported every year. ​​There are over 800 million container movements per year in the world. On average, 40 per cent of overland transits are movements of empty containers. This is especially a problem on the New Silk Road, which faces an imbalance of east- and westbound flows. In order to return equipment, thousands of containers are shipped back empty to the east.

Shipping empties

By using foldable containers, transporting empties becomes less costly, Broekhuis explains. Sea shipping lines have already understood this, as the company has been delivering its solutions for a few years now. “This is defintely suitable for rail as well, but the rail industry is more traditional. It takes time to embrace change”, he acknowledged.

According to long-time rail expert Luuk von Meijenveldt, who also joined the RailFreight Live show, it is definetely an interesting proposition, as long as you have a good user case. “If the folding of containers frees up space, you have empty spots. You do need to fill up those empty spots if you want to create value. But if you do, you can save hundreds of euros with this concept.”

4Fold Container

Holland Container Innovations (HCI) is the developer of the 4FOLD foldable container. It started in 2008 as a spinoff from the Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands.
After 5 years of development, the company managed to build an ISO and CSC certified foldable container. “This helps shippers and shipping lines implement real supply chain innovation”, the company says.

You can see the interview with Hans Broekhuis in last week’s edition of Railfreight Live.

Author: Majorie van Leijen

Majorie van Leijen is the editor-in-chief of, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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