Moselle Express: a ‘greener’ route to Trier

16 August 2018
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Many people in the Netherlands know Trier for its delicious wine. But Germany’s oldest city is also a busy hub of industrial activity. Every day, hundreds of containers make their way from Rotterdam to the birth town of Karl Marx and vice versa. By ship, truck and – since close to two years now – also by rail, on the Moselle Express. Yusen Logistics and Ocean Network Express (ONE) were among the very first companies to use the new rail shuttle. ONE’s Johan Pijpers: “Lower CO2 emissions, swift delivery to the client’s location and efficient re-use of empty containers.”

Moselle Express

The German company Am Zehnhoff-Söns has been operating a rail shuttle between the RWG and ECT Delta terminals on Rotterdam’s Maasvlakte and the multimodal terminal in Trier since January 2017. Every week, the global logistics company Yusen Logistics transports between 40 and 50 containers with industrial products from the port of Rotterdam to a regular client in Luxemburg. “We used to transport them with trucks, but it actually doesn’t make much sense to consistently choose road haulage for a distance of 400 km,” says Yusen Logistics Branch Manager René Braemer. “Particularly when you take heavy traffic and CO2 emissions into account – and on top of this, the containers often come back empty. That’s why we went in search of an intermodal solution.”

New service

At the time there was no rail shuttle along this route. But then Yusen Logistics got in touch with Johan Pijpers (who worked for NYK Line at the time) and the German firm Am Zehnhoff-Söns, who were just in the process of jointly developing the plans. Johan Pijpers, who currently works as Manager Inland Operations Procurement for Ocean Network Express (ONE), already had two major clients in the Trier region. This meant that the Moselle Express had a solid business case. And Yusen Logistics was welcome to join in. “The entire operational process and delivery reliability for the client have improved thanks to this rail shuttle,” says Pijpers. ONE also uses rail transport for industrial products for the automotive sector, as well as (non-hazardous) chemicals.

Inland terminal

Yusen Logistics’ cargo tends to arrive in the port of Rotterdam on a weekday. On Sunday, around 40 containers are loaded onto the Moselle Express. This rail shuttle arrives in the German university town the next day, and by Tuesday, Yusen Logistics has delivered the products to its client on location. “Your planning always has to offer a bit more leeway with intermodal transport. This approach is less suited to perishables, for example, and we still turn to road transport when the client wants a shipment first thing tomorrow. But in most cases, there’s not that much pressure of time with the products we transport – making the Moselle Express an excellent option.”

ECT Showcase in Trier

Delivered within the half hour

A key reason for ONE to use the Moselle Express is the depot in Trier. Large numbers of containers can be parked here – in a very cost-efficient arrangement. “The containers are very close to their final destination: our client is located only 7 km away. In the past, the required containers needed to be forwarded from Rotterdam and you had to take heavy traffic into account,” explains Pijpers (ONE). “Now, the containers are cleared in Trier and whenever the client calls them up, we can actually deliver them within the half hour.” The depot also enables Yusen Logistics to shorten its delivery times to Luxemburg. “Working from Trier makes us a lot more flexible. We’re so close that we can make cargo available to the client a lot sooner,” says Braemer.

Green transport

The most important advantage of freight transport by train is, of course, the reduced CO 2 emissions. ‘The best thing is that we don’t need to deploy so many trucks. For us, this green argument is the most important reason for using the Moselle Express,’ stated Braemer. ONE clients are also looking more carefully at their carbon footprint. Pijpers explained: ‘Transporting containers by rail enables us to reduce CO 2 emissions when the containers are full, but we also have fewer empty miles as we don’t need to return the containers empty.’ That is the third advantage of the Moselle Express: containers can be stored in the depot in Trier and reused for export. These are sometimes returned full to Rotterdam by train or sometimes travel by inland vessel to Bonn. ‘We have a lot of export cargo there that also returns to Rotterdam by inland vessel,’ explained Pijpers.

Both ONE and Yusen Logistics have used the Moselle Express almost weekly since the start of 2017. The train can transport 100 TEU per journey. The Moselle Express leaves Trier for Rotterdam every Tuesday and Friday. The train returns from Rotterdam to Trier on Sundays and Wednesdays.

Moselle Express nearly ready for departure