More and more refrigerated cargo goes to Port of Koper. There is option for intermodal trains

2024/04/26 at 11:17 PM

There is still a lively debate in the industry and, therefore, efforts to shift the volume of transported refrigerated products from road to rail. The challenge is considerable, although the solution is already known and is gradually being implemented. This was discussed during the Logistics Business Days in Port of Koper conference.

The issue of intermodal transport in cold supply chains in the Mediterranean region was discussed at the Logistics Business Days in Port of Koper conference organised on 24 April. As Andrzej Skvarek from Polfrost Internationale Spedition noted, Poland has become an important link in the supply chain, mainly by using two ports. When it comes to the southern harbour, the key one is located in Koper. “From Warsaw towards the south, this is a very natural port through which we can send products. There are also issues of connections and prices. It is also our home port,” said Andrzej Skvarek.

The Port of Koper handles a relatively large volume of refrigerated goods, mainly vegetables and fruits. However, as it turns out, the volume is not large enough to transport goods by rail. “We tranship approximately 80,000 TEU in the Port of Koper, mainly vegetables and fruits. First of all, it is an import but a few years ago, we exported apples all over the world. Let us remember that food is a very sensitive cargo. The delivery time of such cargo is very important. (…) Currently, we have seven container ships from Egypt reaching us. It is a growing trend for European importers who have started looking for alternative suppliers from relatively nearby places,” said Milena Slobko-Jerman, project manager at the Port of Koper.

Moreover, as the representative of the Port of Koper added, all refrigerated cargo that goes to or is sent from the Port of Koper is transported by road. This is due to the small volume of transported refrigerated goods.

However, during the debate, a certain solution was indicated. It was suggested to assemble a train consisting partly of refrigerated wagons and the rest of standard flat wagons transporting containers. As for some refrigerated wagons, a solution from VTG was presented, which involves powering the units with kinetic energy while the train is running.

“A few years ago, we implemented a solution developed in cooperation with an Austrian company. This device is intended to facilitate the transport of refrigerated cargo. The idea is to provide a solution that is, on the one hand, ecological but also allows for independence,” said Elena Margl, asset sales coordination manager for Southeastern Europe at VTG Rail Europe GmbH.

However, as Elena Margl pointed out, this solution allows for independence but such wagons will generate electricity to power the battery and then the generator when travelling above 30 kilometres per hour. “This device generates electricity when driving above 30 kilometres per hour. If we have too many stops or their duration [is too long], we need to provide an alternative power supply, otherwise the cargo will be damaged,” said Elena Margl.

The entity using this solution is Baltic Rail. “We have such wagons, we use VTG wagons. We create trains from this type of wagon. We deliver goods to customers in Poland. The goods are unloaded, then we organise transport in the opposite direction. Technically, everything is possible, the solution is proven and we are doing it,” said Stephen Archer, CEO of Baltic Rail.

Therefore, the issue of downtime at the border related to transporting products, which require sanitary inspection, remains. “Sometimes the generator is unable to produce enough energy to charge the battery. We have to be very careful about this. Electricity consumption and generation must be controlled,” Archer added.

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