Information published on 2 May 2017 in the UIC electronic newsletter "UIC eNews" Nr 546.

Belgium: B Logistics becomes Lineas – from survival to European growth ambition

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It took B Logistics (before SNCB Logistics) six years to transform from a state owned, loss making freight department into a sound, private and competitive logistics partner. To reflect the start of a new era and renewed growth, the company changed its name to Lineas. Today, Lineas is one of the largest private rail freight operators in Europe. Lineas employs approximately 1,900 passionate colleagues and has achieved an annual turnover of almost 500 million euro. Headquartered in Brussels, the company is also based in France, Italy, the Netherlands and Germany and coordinates operations throughout Europe.

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B Logistics casts off the yoke of a historically loss-making department of a Belgian state-owned company. Lineas is a dynamic, private rail operator that is still growing vigorously.

It is more than a matter of a change of name. Following the comprehensive transformation of B Logistics, Lineas is one of the largest and financially most sound, private rail operators in Europe. The new name gives the company a boost to tackle the future full of confidence and ambition. Lineas is intent not only on registering profitable growth in Europe, but also on having a positive impact on mobility, the environment, and the competitiveness of the industry. It is therefore now focusing on providing such good rail products to its industrial customers that they will opt for rail to transport their goods. The pioneering “Green Xpress Network” in particular is bound to make rail the mode of transport of the future.

From historically loss-making to one of the biggest and most profitable private rail operators in Europe
The company has managed to turn a virtually bankrupt department into a financially sound, private growth company over eight years in the midst of an economic crisis. In 2016, Lineas improved its financial result for the 7th year in a row (EBITDA of €27 million compared with €15 million in 2015). Furthermore the company confirmed the growth that was registered for the first time in its history in 2015 (31.5 million tonnes in 2016 vs. 29.4 million tonnes in 2015). The comprehensive transformation succeeded particularly thanks to a clear focus on the part of the entire staff, namely to survive. That focus is now turning to achieving the modal shift to rail.

An ambitious mission of social importance: Modal Shift to rail
It is the mission of Lineas to provide rail products of such quality to its industrial customers that they will opt fully for rail when it comes to transporting their goods. In so doing, they not only improve their supply chain, but also contribute to smoother mobility and a cleaner environment. This is a relevant mission, which provides extra motivation for the staff.
Mobility: The roads are getting more and more congested. Belgium and the surrounding countries are champions in traffic jams. More demand for rail means fewer lorries on the road.
Environment: All European countries are making efforts to achieve the Paris climate goals. Rail transport emits 8 times less CO2 than road transport. More rail transport means an improvement for the environment.
Competitiveness of harbours and industry: Rail is an integral part of the supply chain in all harbours and in many industries. The performance of rail enhances the performance of the users.

Green Xpress Network: the most innovative rail product that stimulates Modal Shift
Lineas continues to offer and improve traditional rail products such as unit trains, distributed transport and inter-modal transport, now and for the future. However, when it comes to registering growth and getting new users to rail, a more innovative rail solution is necessary. It is ultimately customers who choose how they want to transport their goods. Lineas has consequently developed a pioneering end-to-end rail concept based on the needs of the customers (competitive price, good product/service that is easy to use).
The Green Xpress Network is a network of rapid, direct, frequent and reliable rail connections between European economic hubs. The innovative basic principle of an Xpress product consists of building various consignments, ranging from steel, chemicals, consumer goods, via pallets to containers to capitalise fully on the strengths of rail: transporting large volumes over (medium)/long distances. The Green Xpress network today has 10 destinations. Lineas is planning some 20 to 30 new connections between now and 2020.

A team that will move mountains for a challenging mission
The future of the then B-Cargo was highly uncertain in 2008. Few shareholders believed that the company would return to health. The restructuring was thorough and decisive. A great many employees who put their shoulders to the wheel at the time, have been part of the fully transformed Lineas from the outset. It is moreover thanks to the passion and dynamism of its staff that Lineas can make a difference day after day for its customers and for society. The change of name is the reward for the hard work these past years and gives a boost to the further European development of the private company.
To support further growth, Lineas continues to look for passionate new colleagues who want to do their bit for the Modal Shift.
Geert Pauwels, CEO of Lineas: “We are changing name today because we have changed identity as a company. After years of restructuring, we have become one of the biggest and most dynamic private rail operators in Europe. Our ambition is clear: get trucks off the road and shift those volumes to rail. We have developed a pioneering rail product based on the needs of our customers. We are expanding this Green Xpress Network rapidly throughout Europe. I am extremely proud that our organisation which achieved the impossible in recent years is tackling our new ambitious challenge with the same passion and motivation. We want to make a difference and offer rail a future again.”

Lineas, Your Freight Force
The new name had to sound international and be completely different, so as to underscore the European ambitions. Lineas symbolises the connections that the company is building between European hubs, but also the direct lines that are being established with customers and partners and between colleagues. Finally, the baseline, Your Freight Force, refers to the force of rail, the products, and the team.