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  • Writer's pictureFirst Port Global (FPG)

Intermodal services on the up

A number of new and enhanced intermodal rail services have been introduced by various European operators

ECT in Rotterdam is beefing up its rail container shuttle link with Munich [pictured left], in the heart of the German sea ports’ hinterland. Frequency remains three pairs/week between the Rotterdam Maasvlakte terminals and Munich, but the rail traction partner will be BoxXpress. Rail shuttle operator European Gateway Services (EGS), a subsidiary of Hutchison Ports ECT Rotterdam, notes that this will increase schedule reliability.

Closing times have also been extended and the trains call directly at both ECT Delta Peninsula terminals and at ECT’s Euromax terminal. With transfers the other container terminals can enjoy access to the EGS shuttle, too. The trains will continue to arrive in Munich on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. EGS/ECT offers a three weekly rail shuttle connection with Nuremberg, also in Bavaria.

P&O Ferrymasters is expanding its intermodal network to include services from Budapest to Rotterdam and Duisburg. The company’s already significant network will now offer onward connections, in both directions, between these three vital European transport hubs and the UK.

This marks the latest step in P&O Ferrymasters’ eastwards expansion, connecting its rail hubs in Romania and Hungary with global maritime services at Rotterdam and the short sea connections at Duisburg, the world’s largest inland port.

P&O Ferrymasters' 45ft palletwide high cubes
P&O Ferrymasters' 45ft palletwide high cubes

John Freyne, P&O Ferrymasters’ Intermodal Business Development Manager, said: “We exist to solve supply chain challenges and we are delighted to announce our second new intermodal service of 2019, connecting Budapest with the Benelux, Ruhr region and the United Kingdom.

"Using our facilities across Europe, we can now reach every part of the Continent with our highly efficient and cost-effective operations. This new service will enable us to sort out even more logistical challenges for our customers.”

This new service will use existing rail routes through a strategic rail partner and operate with P&O Ferrymasters’ 45ft palletwide, high cube containers with a maximum payload of 23.5 tonnes for all types of ambient goods.

There will be six departures per week in each direction between Budapest and Rotterdam, with a stop in Duisburg. The transit time between Budapest and both Duisburg and Rotterdam is two days and the transit time between Budapest and British ports is either three or four days, depending on the destination.

Schweizerzug has started a new direct rail link to the port of Rotterdam, with two weekly, direct round trips linking Frenkendorf (near Basel) and Niederglatt (near Zurich), respectively. With the new service, Schweizerzug connects the Swissterminal-operated facilities in Frenkendorf and Niederglatt directly with Maasvlakte II in Europe’s largest container port. The service calls at APM Terminals and Rotterdam World Gateway.

The new connections present a fast and efficient addition to Schweizerzug’s Rotterdam connections via the German hub Neuss and the links to the ports of Antwerp and Zeebrugge, said Schweizerzug AG’s CEO Roman Mayer.

"We’re covering Switzerland’s most important economic regions – with the same price for both locations. Zurich and the eastern part of Switzerland especially might consider this new service attractive.”

DSV is now operating a daily multimodal service between the UK and Italy. The service is operated via ro-ro services between Hull and Tilbury and Zeebrugge, with the UK port depending on the collection and delivery postcode. Door to door transit time is 5-8 working days.

In Zeebrugge trailers are entrained for onward delivery to Novara in Italy, for onward collection and delivery by DSV to the final destination point. The same routings are used for imports into the UK from Italy.

Traditionally a multimodal sceptic as far as the UK is concerned, this is DSV’s second move away from its hitherto complete reliance on UK-Continent accompanied road freight via the Dover Straits. Earlier this year it started to use the VIIA intermodal service between Calais and Le Boulou, for trailer shipments between the UK and Spain.

Denise Clarke, Senior Director, commented “Following on from the launch of the rail freight solution between the UK and Spain, we have been very happy with the service and have received many positive responses from our customers.

VIIA train as now used by DSV arriving in Le Boulou from Calais
VIIA train as now used by DSV arriving in Le Boulou from Calais

Schweizerzug/Swiss Terminal has further increase its Rhine seaports connectivity
Schweizerzug/Swiss Terminal has further increase its Rhine seaports connectivity

"We believe that adopting the same approach utilising rail between the UK and Italy will be the perfect solution to further improve our environmental footprint. Similar to the UK/Spain service, we will operate to and from certain postcodes in each country and as the operation is developed, we will expand the coverage further.”

Last month, during Multimodal in Birmingham, PD Ports announced a new container rail service between Teesport and Doncaster in partnership with GB Railfreight. This is a rail distance of less than 100 miles and is made possible due to aggregation, with the anchor customer being Containerships, which has been moving containers filled with IKEA goods by roads from Teesport to South Yorkshire.

The service has been introduced following a successful trial in the spring. Operating on a weekly pairs basis, it carries 56 containers and is estimated to remove 120 road movements.

PD Ports Rail is the third customer for IPort Rail, on behalf of Containerships
PD Ports Rail is the third customer for IPort Rail, on behalf of Containerships

The service calls at IPort Rail Doncaster and is the third service operated by GB Railfreight into this new railhead abutting Verdion’s giant IPort Logistics Park,following the launch of daily services from Southampton last year and Felixstowe earlier this year for deepsea boxes.

However, there is concern in the industry over how Network Rail’s now completed reorganisation will affect freight services. The national infrastructure provider has devolved into five regions with a large degree of autonomy. At the same time, Network Rail has also set up a Network Services Directorate to cater for the needs of its freight and long-distance passenger service customers.

In Southampton, Solent Stevedores and ABP have completed a scheme to extend the track at Solent Rail Terminal by 70m to 645m. This seemingly small change means the terminal can now accommodate two 645m long container trains simultaneously, as opposed to just one shorter train before. The number of trains that can be handled has increased from five to 12 and annual capacity has tripled from 60,000 container moves to 180,000 moves. This is important as it provides more options for shipping lines and more competition for Freightliner, the dominant intermodal rail handler with its own dedicated dockside terminal in the port.

DSV Road: DSV has set up a so-called "alcohol barrier" at its new cross-docking facility in Jönköping in Sweden. All drivers are required to take a breath test and the barrier opens only if the result is negative. As Sweden has a very low drink drive limit, in effect this means no alcohol at all. If the breath test is positive, the barrier will remain closed and if subsequent tests are positive, the authorities will be alerted. Next in line for installation of an alcohol barrier is DSV’s Landskrona terminal. DSV Says the technology behind the barrier has been tested and approved by several associations including the Swedish National Forensic Centre.

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