INSIGHT: Is efficient general cargo in railways only possible with magic??

INSIGHT: Is efficient general cargo in railways only possible with magic??
© Menlo79

Making rail freight competitive with road transport is a challenge overall, but general cargo is the cherry on the cake. The discussion on what we can learn from other modes of transportation was held by Menlo79, during their regular RAILTALKS event in Berlin.

The RAILTALKS. event on 15 June 2023 in Berlin had a sub-headline, “Raily Potter”, as at first glance, making rail competitive with the road in next-day deliveries and FMCG seems only possible with magic. Small volumes of goods in transport and diverse loading and unloading points make this segment suitable for the most complex system of wagonloads provided in Germany by DB Cargo. Can private players join this game, and how?

Decades ago, a movement started in road transport that railways can now learn from. One of the factors that made roads more competitive and efficient was the fact that road transportation companies started closer cooperation not only with forwarders but also among themselves. Panel discussion attendees strongly expressed this lesson during the RAILTALKS. event. To make general cargo truly work with railways included, closer cooperation is needed, not only with the last mile on the road but among the players on the rails too. At the end of the day, railways are strong in the long stretch, and there is a much bigger piece of the pie to go for when it comes to the modal shift.

RAILTALKS. in Berlin brought innovative new companies to present their products for general cargo used by road, potentially applicable by rail. And in the discussion panel, attendees pointed out that forwarders can consolidate shipments for the railways, just like road transport did in the past.

A very good comparison was expressed when transportation was compared to house construction. When doing so, many professions come together and must collaborate and coordinate their actions. At the end of the day, the customer is only interested in having its house built on time, budget and quality. And the same mindset must be applied to transportation.

Last but not least, as panel discussion attendees expressed, one of the inequalities between road and rail transport is the lifecycle of assets. While road transport assets renew in 5-10 years, assets last on railways for 30-50 years, making the railways an industry which is slow to innovate. That is why intermodality is seen as a solution on the way out of this circle.

RAILTALKS. is a unique event and network format by Menlo79 that brings together experts and thought leaders with one clear goal: Driving innovation in the rail sector! The centerpiece is a digital talkshow in German on the future of rail and logistics that takes place four times a year. It aims to inspire, stay up-to-date and learn. Menlo79, a Berlin-based LogTech Start-up, organises it. You can watch the entire panel discussion of the last event, Raily Potter, in German on YouTube:

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