Over the past ten years the Port of Gothenburg has invested heavily in increasing the volume of goods moved by train to and from the port. This initiative has proved successful – 45 per cent of all containers are now transported by rail. This represents around 200,000 containers annually, which means 550 fewer large trucks on the roads each day.
The Port of Gothenburg also has the largest ro/ro terminal in Sweden, handling half a million trailers each year. Only a few per cent of these arrive at the port by train, the remainder going by road.
“But things are about to change. Our aim in the short term is for 10 per cent of all trailers to be transported to or from the port by trailer train. This would mean around 60,000 trailers each year, equivalent to 164 trucks every day. Looking ahead further the aim is 25 per cent,” says Magnus Kårestedt, CEO at the Port of Gothenburg.
There are several reasons why it is not as simple to switch trailers to rail compared with containers. Up to now it has been cheaper to move trailers by truck, there has been a shortage of trailer trains and the contents of a trailer sometimes need to be unloaded at two or more points.
The new trains will be combi-trains – half the train is loaded with trailers and half with containers. The train operators are North Rail and Intercontainer and the first three destinations are Vännäs (1,000 km to the north), Helsingborg in the south and Eskilstuna in central Sweden.
Instead of, for example, a truck driving all the way from Eskilstuna to Gothenburg, it only needs to drive a short distance to the nearest inland terminal. The trailer is then lifted onto a train for onward transport to the Port of Gothenburg.
“Our hope now is that companies and forwarders will latch on to this arrangement, which offers efficient transport and major environmental benefits,” says Magnus Kårestedt.