Huge increase: Lotos Kolej on cross-border container rail shipments between Germany and Poland

2021/09/02 at 11:00 AM

Germany plays a significant role in the development of Lotos Kolej, the Polish third-largest rail freight operator. The western neighbour of Poland became the first foreign market for the company. Dariusz Puchała, vice president of the management board of Lotos Kolej, unveils to IntermodalNews some details about the business activities of the railway undertaking in Germany.

Lotos Kolej started its operations in Germany in 2015. Last year, it obtained the extended certificate for moving freight in the country. What does it mean for the company?

There are as many as 438 railway carriers operating across the western border, of which 414 are German. Lotos Kolej is one of the four Polish companies, which, under the certificate issued by the Federal Railway Authority (Eisenbahn-Bundesamt), are allowed to operate in Germany. Due to the fact that the company obtained another safety certificate, part B, we got a clear signal that Lotos Kolej is continuing its development on the German market with an opportunity to conclude long-term contracts.

Contracts with whom?

To meet the expectations of our customers, the company independently provides comprehensive transport from Poland to Germany. We provide transport services for Polish contractors, including the Lotos Group, as well as for foreign companies. Our transport offer is very flexible, as we are adapting to the market situation. Moreover, the range of freight moved by Lotos Kolej is diverse due to the contracts performed. In Germany, we mainly transport fuels such as diesel, FAME, as well as gas and coal.

Freight train hauled by Newag Dragon locomotive of Lotos Kolej, source: Lotos Kolej

What about moving the containers to Germany?

We also provide intermodal services. Our company places great emphasis on developing the container transport in Germany. Recently, we have noted a huge increase in cross-border container shipments. The favourable geographic location of Poland and Germany favours the implementation of transport within various transport corridors.

Currently, the development direction is the New Silk Road, under which products run from China to the final customers in Western Europe. In line with the prevailing trends, part of road transport will be gradually shifted to the tracks, which will contribute to both the increase in the level of road safety and the reduction of CO2 emissions to the atmosphere.

In which directions or between which cities does the company transport freight in Germany?

Most frequently, Lotos Kolej runs trains from the Polish-German boundary via the Kunowice – Frankfurt or Bielawa Dolna – Horka border crossings to important logistics hubs in Germany, namely to Hamburg, Duisburg, Bad Bentheim, Emmerich, Mainz and Bamberg. Due to the contracts signed, we currently provide transport mainly in the northern and central parts of Germany.

Does the company have its own fleet maintenance base in Germany?

Lotos Kolej does not have a branch in Germany, therefore, the operated rolling stock, which is certified for operation in both Poland and Germany, is used in both countries, in accordance with the analysis carried out in terms of logistics and operations. The TRAXX 186 multi-system locomotives are dedicated to transporting on the German railway infrastructure, allowing trains to travel on both sides of the border without having to be replaced. The company carries out ongoing repairs of rolling stock in its maintenance workshops in Gdańsk or in place and to the extent compliant with signed contracts for the operation of rolling stock.

What are the company’s plans for further development in the German market?

Lotos Kolej has been consistently replacing its rolling stock with modern ones. Within the project co-financed by the European Union and entitled ‘Purchase of modern intermodal rolling stock by Lotos Kolej’, the company acquired modern flat wagons, which will also be used for moving containers in the international market, also in Germany. To summarise, I can say that we will develop our activities both in Poland and abroad, ensuring the high quality of the services provided.

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