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DB Schenker Russia/Eurasia in cooperation with PFKO is testing contrailer transportation in Russia

Global Logistic operator DB Schenker aims to implement an innovative method of cargo transportation combining different types of transport.

March 25, 2020, with the support of the Center for Corporate Transport Services - a branch of JSC "Russian Railways" (CFTO), the Central Directorate of Traffic Management - a branch of JSC "Russian Railways" and the Federal Agency of Railway Transport (ROSZHELDOR), DB Schenker Russia/Eurasia completed test of contrailer transportation on the route St. Petersburg-Sochi. Terminal handling and dispatch is performed by TLC Modul operator in S-Petersburg and by North-Caucasus Direction of terminal-warehouse complex (subsidiary of JSC "Russian Railways") upon contrailer arrival. Cargo delivery took 12 days in total. Only one railcar is launched in testing mode. DB Schenker partner is "PFKO" - the First Federal Contrailer Operator - the owner of rolling stock.

"Contrailer transportation is a combination of road and rail transport for goods delivery. Such transportation implies the use of special railway platforms with installed semi-trailers, trailers, detachable bodies, etc. DB Schenker has extensive experience in the organization of multimodal transportation - for example, our European offices regularly operate more than 10 000 deliveries a year only on the route Verona-Rostok", - said the CEO of DB Schenker Russia/Eurasia Aivars Taurins.

In the beginning of 2000s in order to increase competence in multimodal transportation DB Schenker acquired and successfully integrated logistics operator Hangartner, specialized on organization of multimodal transportation - road, rail and sea – on the routes from Italy to Scandinavia.

Sochi was chosen as destination point because of hard mountain relief which assumes restrictions for heavy-load road transport. In similar situation in Alpine part of Switzerland heavy-load trucks are placed on railway platforms and cross mountains through railway tunnels.

Wagon constructions developed in the past didn’t match tunnel height on the route to Sochi. The wagon developed by PFKO has no such limits and successfully reached destination point.
"Contrailers allow to provide continuous movement/transportation of cargo 24/7 with executing of labor legislation requirements, i.e. maximum allowed driving hours per working day. The driver is required only for the "first and last mile", which is a solution for the problem of staff shortage on the road transport market," continued Aivars Taurins.

Contrailer transportation is also particularly demanded in case of difficult climatic conditions.

"For example, in case of heavy snowfalls when roads become impassable - the railroad continues transportation" added Aivars Taurins.

Among other things contrailers are one of the most environmentally friendly types of transports. According to the experience of DB Schenker's European offices usage of railroad platforms on some intensive cargo routes minimizes carbon dioxide emissions up to 83%. The same time cost of contrailer transportation is comparable to road transportation.

"If we are speaking about the profitability of contrailers we must consider the distance. On some European routes, contrailer transportation is cost-effective already from 300-500 km distance. If we are talking about Russia contrailers become cost-effective from 1000 km and more," said Aivars Taurins.
“Contrailer transportation is a quite new topic in Russian logistic environment having very good prospects. But at the current beginning stage we need support from Russian Railways and Customs authorities to make it competitive and fast operating. Our company is in close touch with different organizations of JSC "Russian Railways" and I strongly believe we can settle all the issues in the nearest time and launch commercial operations,” said CEO of PFKO, Roman Vdovin.

DB Schenker Russia/Eurasia is planning to test contrailer traffic not only on domestic but also on international routes. One of the currently developing route is Moscow-Liepaja following ferry line for cargo delivery to Germany (further - all over Europe by means of currently operating DB Schenker global multimodal transportation network). This route will be supported by PFKO, container block-train operator LOGOPER, Stena Line and Latvian Railways.