The first container has been sent by rail from Valencia to Denmark. CoolRail, which transports fresh produce by train from Spain to key European markets in partnership with Transfesa Logistics and Euro Pool System, operated this first voyage as a test run, with a view to making this a regular route. The initiative is aimed at meeting the increasing demand from customers such as Co-op Trading, which supplies the main retail cooperatives in Scandinavia.
The main benefits of this new route are the competitive transit time of five days and savings of more than 70% in CO2 emissions compared to road transport. The return trip is also economically feasible because the returning train carries empty pallets belonging to Euro Pool System.
Transfesa Logistics’ key account manager, Pedro Ramos, said: “We have made great progress by consolidating CoolRail as the most sustainable and efficient distribution network for sending fresh products to the whole of Europe. Customers in Nordic countries are pleased to see rail transport at the heart of the supply chain”.
CoolRail, powered by Transfesa, has been transporting fresh produce between the south and northwest of Europe since 2019.
Transfesa Logistics and Euro Pool System (EPS) have signed an agreement to work together to extend CoolRail routes across Europe. The partnership will see the initial direct rail connection for refrigerated products between Valencia and Rotterdam expanded to countries throughout the continent, including the UK, Scandinavia, Germany and Poland. The service will continue to be called CoolRail.
Bernd Hullerum, CEO of Transfesa Logistics, said: “The association with Euro Pool System is a great opportunity for us to show the fresh produce market that the railroad can be just as fast and reliable as road service. In addition, it contributes to achieve more environmentally friendly supply chains, since a train emits nine times less CO2 than a lorry.”
The new service will make use of the infrastructure of DB Cargo, the main shareholder of Transfesa Logistics.
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.