Choice of corridor and design of wagonload concept
Based on the EU targets of shifting volumes to rail transport, SMART-RAIL aims to develop and to strengthen a Single Wagon Load (SWL) transport concept. The existing (classic) SWL services, represented mainly by the incumbent railway companies, have withdrawn from such type of services in many areas in Europe.
The intermodal transport as one of the drivers in railways has also replaced a lot of transport concepts in SWL and uses trucking for the distribution of goods in standardised boxes.
On the other hand several projects in recent years, supported by the EU and some member states as well as private initiatives have shown that railway transport is not necessarily limited to block train operations. Some of them, such as RETRACK are still existing and in operation and providing economically sustainable services.
One major background for this project is the still existing demand for rail transport services “smaller than block trains”. Only few industries are capable of filling frequently complete block trains. This leads to a steady demand for SWL services which is only partly fulfilled.
The “third-party” railways in Europe currently have almost no SWL offers as they face several general challenges.
– Areal coverage
– International aspects
– Fleet monitoring
– ICT solutions
– Production quality
– Economies of scale, required critical mass
These aspects can be overcome if the services concentrate on certain commodities or corridors. Existing ICT solutions and well known marketing strategies can provide benchmarks for such opportunities.
The Continuous Improvement Track’s overall content is based on a transport corridor served by one of the consortium partners in France, from Marseille to Sélestat (Alsace). With this corridor as a basis, extensions into Germany, Belgium, and Switzerland will be developed and the overall transport “concept” communicated to shippers and interested cooperation partners. Case studies and marketing initiatives show the general feasibility of such services in operations and economies.