Germany's DB Schenker Rail launched a project to create a Europe-wide system to supply and control rail freight transport aimed at boosting the industry's share of the maritime container market.
"Production management, transport monitoring and related customer information, which is currently handled by the individual national [rail] companies, will in future be coordinated on an international scale," Europe's biggest rail cargo carrier said.
"This paves the way for harmonized Europe-wide support of rail-bound logistics for our customers," Karsten Sachsenroder, member of DB Schenker's Management Board, told the Western Seaports conference in Rotterdam.
By The Numbers:
North America - Europe Eastbound Container Trade.
Conference delegates committed to working with ship owners, freight forwarders, port authorities and shippers to revitalize intermodal transport to and from Dutch and Belgian seaports, including Rotterdam and Antwerp, Europe's top two box hubs.
This will involve, for example, consultation between transport providers and shippers to improve the response to fluctuating shipments and imminent capacity bottlenecks.
The port of Rotterdam, which forecasts container traffic will treble to around 30 million 20-foot equivalent units within 20 years, backed the DB Schenker initiative.
"Good hinterland connections are vital if we are to cope with this growth efficiently, quickly and ecologically," said Hans Smits, Chief Executive of the Port of Rotterdam Authority.
"Accordingly we need to have effective and competitive rail freight transportation, especially in view of our modal shift ambitions," Smits said.
Rail currently transports 13.5 percent of containers to and from Rotterdam, trailing trucking at 47.5 percent, and inland shipping at 39 percent.
The port wants to boost rail's share to 20 percent by 2035, increase inland shipping to 45 percent and cut trucking to 35 percent.
Rotterdam handled 9.75 million TEUs in 2009, down from an all time high of 10.78 million TEUS in 2008. But traffic has recovered, rising 18 percent in the first half of 2010 from a year ago to 5.2 million TEUs.
DB Schenker announced recently it will spend a record $525 million on new rail cars, locomotives and cargo facilities across Europe to keep pace with rising demand.
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