Seven leading European rail freight operators - CD Cargo (Czech Republic), CFL Cargo (Luxembourg), DB Schenker Rail (Germany, Netherlands, Denmark), Green Cargo (Sweden, Norway), Rail Cargo Austria (Austria, Hungary), SBB Cargo (Switzerland) and SNCB Logistics (Belgium) - officially launched the Xrail alliance during a press conference in Zurich on 18th February.
Xrail’s goal is to render international wagonload traffic by rail more customer-friendly and efficient by close cooperation on production and information services. The alliance aims to significantly increase the quality and competitiveness of wagonload traffic in Europe, thus helping take traffic off the roads and protect the environment. “The alliance is laying the foundation for a sustainable wagonload network throughout Europe”, says Oliver Sellnick, UIC Freight Director.
Products based on Xrail production standards will provide customers with
reliability: at least 90% in international wagonload traffic on the Xrail network
transparency: Xrail customers are provided with international transport schedules from customer siding to customer sidings and delay alerts
offer time: Xrail transport quotes will be provided within a maximum of 3 working days
After the successful completion of the pilot phase, during which services were delivered to customers according to the Xrail standards, Xrail now links major economic areas in Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Luxembourg, Sweden and Switzerland. Xrail builds upon the existing infrastructure, the European Union’s TEN-T corridors (Trans European Transport Network). Xrail intends to expand its network in stages, the long-term goal being to encompass the entire European wagonload traffic network.
Xrail was initiated in 2007 under the leadership of the UIC. Coordinated and supported by UIC the alliance partners have since been developing and designing international production standards, the necessary IT tools, and quality improvement measures as well as elaborating the alliance agreement. Xrail showcases how railways can use UIC as a neutral facilitator to move the industry forward.
Oliver Sellnick moderated a debate with the CEOs of the seven Xrail member railways about Xrail in front of more than 35 journalists. Dr. Alexander Hedderich, CEO DB Schenker Rail, Geert Pauwels, Head of SNCB Freight Division SNCB Logistics, Nicolas Perrin, CEO SBB Cargo, Fernand Rippinger, CEO CFL cargo, Ferdinand Schmidt, Member of the Management Board Rail Cargo Austria, Rodan Senekl, Member of the Board CD Cargo and Olle Wennerstein, Deputy CEO Green Cargo, clarified key issues around Xrail:
The Xrail partner railways are convinced of the growth potential for competitive international wagonload services and committed to build a European network based on the Xrail standards which will be rolled out in stages. Wagonload complements other rail freight products and cannot be replaced.
Cooperation is the only way to build a sustainable European high quality network. The alliance is open to welcome new members fulfilling the mutually agreed quality standards and complementing the Xrail production network. Alliance approach and agreement were coordinated with and endorsed by the European Commission.
Transportation time is relevant but it is by far more important for customers to have a reliable product. Only then rail freight services can be integrated into logistic solutions. Hence, Xrail aims to make wagonload rail freight more predictable.
Wagonload transports benefit of the environmental friendliness of rail, consuming less energy and emitting three to four times less CO2 than road transportation. A high performance wagonload network will strengthen the competitiveness of the European economy.
Right after the press conference, the CEOs of the seven Xrail members signed the alliance contract in front of a first locomotive branded by SBB Cargo with the Xrail logo.