Growth despite Rastatt

During the past year, Swiss intermodal transport operator Hupac carried approximately 763,000 road consignments by rail, representing an increase of 3.5% or 36,000 shipments compared to the previous year. The seven-week blockade of the Rhine valley route near Rastatt resulted in the loss of over 30,000 road consignments.

Transport development

The development of transports during the past year was impacted by a number of external factors. While an increase of 8.3% compared to 2016 was achieved in the first six months, transportation was inhibited by substantial construction sites during the second half of the year, most notably the six-month closure of the Luino route between Bellinzona and Gallarate. However, the effects of the seven-week complete shutdown of the Rhine valley route due to a construction accident near Rastatt were considerably more severe. Of Hupac’s 300 trains normally operating on this route every week, less than a third could be rerouted. By providing additional trains between Basel and Italy, and by bridging the accident site with waterway transports on the Rhine and customer-organised truck shuttles, approximately 50% of the transports could be accommodated.

Once the Rhine valley route was reopened in early October, the situation normalised quickly. Overall, Hupac achieved a 3.5% increase in transports in 2017. The Rastatt effect is noticeable not only in the statistics of transalpine transports through Switzerland, but also, in part, in non-transalpine transports, comprising the Switzerland import-export traffic via the Benelux-Switzerland routes. Transalpine transports via France also increased (+13.0%), while transalpine transports via Austria declined slightly (-2.2%).

Outlook for 2018

For the current year Hupac expects the active demand to continue. A variety of projects are in the pipeline to ensure reliable and safe transportation, including the terminal projects in Milan Smistamento, Piacenza and Brescia. These are currently in the implementation phase and will provide new transhipment capacities when the 4-meter corridor opens up in 2020. New rail concepts are in development, such as the diversification of the routings for the purpose of risk mitigation, as well as backup solutions for a more flexible handling of the growing disruptive factors impacting operations.

With respect to product development, the new connections Hannover D Novara and Zeebrugge CobelFret D Novara for the market segment of 4-meter trailers should be mentioned as well as the daily shuttle between Singen and Cremona. “With our partner Neska Intermodal we are developing connections between the terminal Köln Nord and Italy. For the opening of the markets in Iran, Caucasus and Central Asia, we rely on the close cooperation with partners“, according to Hupac’s managing director Beni Kunz. As of February 2018, the south-east European transport axis is reinforced by a twice-weekly train Rotterdam/Duisburg D Istanbul (Halkali).