Reefer trains might redefine the refrigerated transport industry
Spain is a key fruit and vegetable supplier for supermarkets in North West Europe. Trucks travel this route daily, loaded with citrus fruits, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers or lettuce, depending on the season. According to estimations, around 30,000 lorry movements are needed every year.
Since November 2016, Cool Rail, a rail link between Spain and North West Europe, has been shipping fruits and vegetables in reefer trains on a weekly basis. Every week, 12 containers are transported in two trains connecting Valencia, Spain, with Cologne, Germany. The cargo is then loaded onto trucks and transported to distribution centres. Cool Rail trains reach Rotterdam with 40 containers per train. The goal is to eventually have the train riding five times a week.
With this new supply line to Rotterdam, promoters expect to further reduce CO2 emissions. The train to Cologne has been cutting CO2 emissions by 70% per truck shipment avoided, and when heading to Rotterdam, by 80 to 90%. Another advantage is that prices could be reduced: potentially, the train is 30% cheaper than road transport.
Even though today the transport with Cool Rail trains hasn't manage to reduce shipping times - the containers must be reloaded when crossing the Spanish border because of a different rail width - in the long run, this new train connection will be quicker than road transport, thus allowing for the supply of fresher and better quality products.
At the other end of the continent, KTZ Express, a division of Kazakhstan Railways, recently transported fruit and vegetables grown by Uzbek producers in refrigerated container train through Kazakhstan to Russia. The pilot train travelled from Samarkand (Uzbekistan) to Lokot (Russia) through the Kazakh cities of Almaty and Semey and reached its destination in five days. Bearing in mind that it takes 45 days to deliver goods by the sea in this area, this new service could not only reduce delivery time, but it could give strong impetus to the development of refrigerated transport, strengthen the economy, increase of the transit capacity of Kazakhstan, as well as the volume of transit traffic from China to Europe via Kazakhstan.
For further information, please follow the links below.