Good practice

Commercial freight collaboration revives rail transport in Carpathia

Commercial freight collaboration revives rail transport in Carpathia
© ake1150, image #114521871, 2017, source:
Energy, Materials
High cost
Annual saving:
20 - 70%
Payback time:
0.2 - 0.5 Year(s)
Premises and operation areas:
Supply operations
Size of company:
Large (more than 250)

Back on track

  • Freight companies band together to rejenuvenate regional rail network as viable alternative to struggling road transport 
  • Action leads to vastly reduced CO2 and a 66 % average saving on journey times

The Carpathia region in the Czech Republic was struggling with increasing road transportation (up 250 % between 1997 and 2002) resulting from economic development. At the same time, the rail system was under pressure due to shrinking shipment sizes and lead times.

As part of the Carpathia Express project, three freight forwarders from the Czech Republic and Germany saw an opportunity to bundle their shipping operations on rail transport. Their combined volume was the boost needed to rejuvenate the ailing train service.

Key results

The cooperation between formerly competing companies yielded substantial benefits for the partners, customers and environment:

  • Average 66 % saving on journey times compared to other transport modes
  • High-quality, ‘one-stop-shop’ service including check-in, space reservation, dispatch operations, etc.
  • The service is available and beneficial not only to local customers but also those in western and northern Europe
  • The customer base during the initial six months of commercial operations was extended by 400 %
  • CO2 emissions reduced thanks to vast shift in shipments from road to rail, a more environmentally friendly option 
  • Centralisation of shunting operations to just a few railroad railheads noise from rail tractor units (engines) have decreased substantially along the project routes​ 

Further observations from the project include: 

  • A well-defined sales policy, together with the right technology, can boost rail transport volumes despite a declining trend in rail transport across Europe
  • When offered regular, reliable and fast services at competitive prices, customers are willing to shift from road to greener modes
  • Partnership between industry competitors with similar transport streams can generate a critical mass of individual shipments and savings for all concerned

"Looking back, it is obvious that the original decision was right; the introduction of a direct integrated train on a given route has resulted not only in the reduction of the operating cost of a single railway carriage but has also generated new customers as well as increased overall annual turnover for all parties involved." - Jan Götthans, Project Principal, Carpathia Express

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