28. June 2023

On the right track: Heavy loads on the rails   

Universal Transport is increasingly relying on combined waterway and rail transports. In addition to inland vessels, rail transport also has several advantages over trucks for heavy goods and project cargo. In addition to the high load of up to 480 tons, this mode of transport impresses in particular with its low gas emissions. This works in favour for Universal Transport and shareholder GRUBER Logistics, who always want to offer their customers transport solutions with the lowest possible environmental impact. In addition, the rail network in Germany and Europe is developed well already. The economic centers are connected to each other via direct connections and rail corridors, as well as to the seaports and logistics hubs. 

“Changing unusual transports to rail transport is interesting for us because of the standardized and plannable approval procedures. For road transports, a lead time of 14 days would be great but the approval processes here are much longer and more complex most of the time,” says Holger Dechant, Managing Director of Universal Transport, and board member of GRUBER Logistics. “Due to this, we want to try harder to get our ‘main business’ onto the rails – for example, if we have an order to transport 30 tons of concrete elements.” 

Around 50 percent of all large-capacity and heavy-duty transports longer than 250 kilometres, could be moved to the rails. Despite these options, there are still some challenges to overcome, including expanding the stock of special freight wagons and modular concepts and improving compatibility between the different modes of transport. 

“However, the basis for moving transport traffic to rail and inland waterways is that customers and shippers also agree with it. Ecological logistics costs time and money. In the long term, we can only establish sustainable supply chains through interaction between logistics and industry,” adds Dechant. 

Since road transports are becoming increasingly difficult to plan due to ailing infrastructure, rising costs and a lack of staff, alongside the relevance of climate protection aspects, Universal Transport plans to significantly increase the proportion of rail transports within the group in the mid-term. For this purpose, employees of the heavy-duty specialist were able to find out more about the advantages of rail transport compared to truck transport in a hybrid training course. Maren Schemmann, Product Manager for Special Transports at DB, provided information on why companies should consider this alternative mode of transport. 

She says: “Often rail transport is an efficient alternative to road transport. A substantial proportion of the shipments that would require approval on the road do not require approval for the rail route and can be conducted on standard vehicles.” 

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