CoolRail, the first European rail service for fresh produce

Mon 23/12/2019 by Richard Wilkinson
CoolRail, the first European rail service for fresh produce, Credit: Sandra Zeillstra (FLD)

CoolRail is Europe’s first rail connection for fresh produce, serving south and north-western Europe. The initiative, started by Euro Pool System in May 2019 to ensure greater efficiency and sustainability in the fresh supply chain, consists of a direct train link between the ports of Valencia and Rotterdam, with dedicated trains three times a week in both directions, as well as a connecting line with Barcelona. Key account manager, Miguel Ángel Hidalgo, said,

“The project actually began in 2012, when the Dutch retailer Albert Hein sought an alternative to road transport and Euro Pool System decided it was a strategic necessity to be certified as ‘Lean and Green’ and reach its goal of reducing CO2 emissions by 20% by 2025.”

In fact, CoolRail goes far beyond meeting these objectives. International Flows Manager, Fred Lessing, said,

“We collaborated on this project with the Erasmus University of Rotterdam. While we believed the reduction of CO2 emissions would be of the order of 30-50%, the results of a study estimate that saving will instead be of between 70% and 90%, depending on content of truck or train.”

This prime example of a circular economy provides added value for CoolRail’s customers, who, besides Albert Hein, already number Bakker, Bollo and Primaflor, with great interest shown across the continent, which can be served by connecting truck services. CoolRail currently rents over 100 diesel-electric reefers to maintain the cold chain. As one train is the equivalent of 42 trucks, CoolRail will replace 13,000 trucks per year, thereby removing 15,000 tons of C02 from the supply chain and saving the energy produced by six wind turbines in a year. It will also reduce traffic congestion on Europe’s busy road network. A successful pilot study was carried out in Germany in 2016.

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