Skip to main content
More transport by rail is a must. Otherwise, we will not achieve our climate targets. Yet some companies seem reluctant to switch from road to intermodal transport. A misjudgment as there are only advantages. In this series, we talk to shippers who have already made the step.

Text: Marco Barneveld

With all eyes on the world focused on the COP26 in Glasgow, one thing is clear: rail freight transport is the way to achieve climate gains and the climate targets set. In fact, more transport by rail is required if we want to achieve the climate objectives. After all, transport is responsible for 25% of CO2 emissions. Rail is only responsible for 0.4%.

Fortunately, many leading companies have already made the switch from road to intermodal transport.

“We can’t do without this kind of transport”

Company? Electrolux
Produces? Household appliances with brands such as AEG and Electrolux
Who? Nico van den Berg, Distribution Process Lead BA Europe at Electrolux

Why intermodal?
“Sustainability is in the DNA of Electrolux. We think of all the solutions. Smart washing machines that use less water, economical refrigerators, and smarter kitchens to waste less food. We don’t just stand on the sidelines; we actively think along with our suppliers about making things even greener. Rail freight transport is essential to this. All our factories are connected to the railways. In the Netherlands, the train literally rolls into our warehouse.”

That’s pretty unique!
“Yes, we are the only place in the Netherlands where that happens. We load and unload eight to ten wagons of white goods every evening without adverse weather effects. Our locations have all been deliberately chosen so that we can get straight onto the track.”

How much do you transport by rail and intermodal?
“At the moment 61% goes by road, 27% intermodal via road and rail and 12% entirely by rail. But we are working hard on these percentages. We want to meet the climate requirements set out in the Paris Agreement. Road transport must drop from 61% to 38% in 2025. Intermodal transport must reach 44% of the total. Pure rail can also grow about three percent. At our distribution center in Northern France, we have now managed to restore the railway connection. In the transport to and from the depot, we are running pilot projects with biodiesel and e-trucks. By 2030, our transport must be climate-neutral. In 2050, our entire company. Intermodal is the central focus here.”

What are the challenges?
“Things you cannot control. For example, restrictions on the railways, or like this year’s floods and strikes in Germany. But despite that, we are well on track. The train is extremely reliable. You always know when it will arrive. A train is on time. That is the certainty of the railway timetable. Of course, the flexibility is a little less, but we know that the train will roll into our place within a time slot of thirty minutes. We cannot do without this transport. Not only as a company but also as a society. The railway is sustainable and has the great ability to absorb everything we take from the road.”

What could be better?
“The provision of information. When something goes by road, you can accurately see where the cargo is with track & trace. But when a load enters the train, we don’t know. That is a pity and certainly a point for attention. It would also benefit efficiency if there were a European railway timetable and European regulations. For example, a pilot or a lorry driver would not have to disembark at the border. All those different languages and different rules limit efficiency on the whole route.”

Do you have any tips for other shippers who are thinking about intermodal transport?
“Only via rail is incredibly capital intensive. Intermodal gives a lot of opportunities. The efficiency of the intermodal terminals is enormous. Especially now that cranes are no longer used to haul trailers on the wagons, they are driven on and off. The train remains the most sustainable form of transport. And it’s getting better and better.”

This article is part of a series of interviews written in connection with COP26 in Glasgow. Read part 1 with Swinkels Family Brewers here.

You might also be interested in

Intermodal transportation is interesting for larger volumes

7 - 12 - 2021
Transporting volumes via a combination of modalities with the railways as the pivot: there is still much to be gained. We speak to shippers who…

The first freight train runs over Hoekse Lijn metro tracks

1 - 12 - 2021
A unique event: yesterday, the first freight train ran over the Hoekse Lijn metro line. The freight trains that will be using this track will…

Optimizing water and foam jets for emergency routes

23 - 11 - 2021
For the five railway yards in the Port of Rotterdam, ProRail makes clever use of a computer model to determine from which distance it is…

Poll

Poll 2: are being overtaken by other modalities

Rail freight is green, but we are being overtaken by other modalities.

Stay informed?

Subscribe to the newsletter

Latest news

Multimodale samenwerking Michael Kors en EGS

28 - 06 - 2022
Voor het dagelijkse vervoer vanaf de Rotterdamse Maasvlakte naar het distributiecentrum in Venlo heeft Michael Kors aan EGS de regie gegeven over de planning en…

Vlogs: EU Year of Youth

13 - 06 - 2022
Rail Cargo vlogs - Jaar van de Jongeren. Dit keer nemen Wietse Bruinsma en Isa Prins een vlog op met Vincent Krijgsman van European Gateway…

De DE18 Smart Hybrid locomotief trekt 1300 ton bergop in de Belgische Ardennen.

16 - 05 - 2022
De nieuwe DE18 Smart Hybrid locomotief trekt 1300 ton bergop in de Belgische Ardennen. De test vond plaats op Lijn 166 tussen Namen en Athus,…

ERTMS: het digitale spoorplatform

11 - 05 - 2022
ERTMS: het digitale spoorplatform. Bij Rail Freight the Future is Ours lees je al het nieuws over de spoorgoederen sector op gebied van innovatie, infrastructuur…

Terugblik Spoorcongres 2022

1 - 05 - 2022
We kijken terug op weer een mooie editie van het Spoorcongres. Tijdens het Spoorcongres is de rode loper uitgelegd voor alle railsterren en is uitgebreid…

Digitalisering spoorgoederenvervoer van start

12 - 04 - 2022
Het spoorgoederenvervoer, de rail sector, digitaliseert nu ook in de Port of Rotterdam. Dit gebeurt vanwege de duurzaamheidsdoelstellingen vanuit de Europese Unie.

Contact us

Do you have questions about the initiative Rail Freight, The Future is Ours? Would you like to become an ambassador? Or are you considering transporting goods by rail? Then please contact us. Leave a message with your details and we will contact you within 2 working days.

Leave a Reply