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Digitalization in Rail Freight: the key to a future-oriented transport business

The logistics sector is one of the biggest causes of CO2 emissions. In order to slow down climate change, the shift of goods from road to rail is a logical consequence. But rail freight also has numerous advantages in terms of efficiency and safety in the transport business.

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Politicians have long since recognized them as well and have therefore declared 2021 the European Year of Rail – including measures like the Green Deal, Fit for 55, numerous funding programs and mobility strategies.

What initially seems to be a great starting point for a rail freight breakthrough in 2022 turns out to be extremely complex. To successfully overcome these hurdles, intelligent transport concepts, Big Data and innovative machine learning algorithms support in the long term.

Rail Network: In need of Optimization

In recent years, the expansion of the rail network has been neglected. The consequences include congested railways, which are both used by passenger and freight traffic, high wear and tear, and missing or too short passing tracks. At this point, massive investments are essential to keep up with the growing traffic. Also, the state must support electrified lines as well as sidings to business locations and industrial estates.

These challenges go hand in hand with information deficits and poor planning processes, which infrastructure managers urgently need to address by improving processes and information exchange between various logistics partners.

Say yes to Rail Freight

It’s a fact that there is an urgent need for reform, because interest in rail freight transport is growing not only with the focus on climate targets. Customers and authorities are demanding more sustainability in the transport business, on top supply chain resilience has become an important issue due to COVID-19 and the Suez Canal crisis. With the following four approaches, the shift to rail can be enforced quickly and efficiently:

  • Expansion of the rail network

The focus lies particularly on the reinforcement of the main transport axes, electrified lines in the rail network and dedicated tracks for freight transports. The train length also plays an important role, since 60 percent of goods trains are only 600 meters long, although the EU standard dimension is 740 meters.

  • Intelligent concepts for combined transport

Especially for cross-border transport routes, the use of rail with trucks on the last mile is recommended. This requires efficient, strategically located transshipment terminals for containers and trailers likewise.

  • Simplification of cross-border transports

Drivers and locomotives often have to be exchanged at the border, as different standards and requirements apply in various EU countries. This slows down cross-border rail freight transport and increases costs.

  • Transparent flow of information

It is mandatory to link all participants in the supply chain across every modality – be it the shipper and recipient of the goods or contracted carriers. This simplifies the communication between all parties involved and ensures flexible room for maneuver in case of disruptions or delays. AI-based solutions that monitor the entire supply chain in real time come in handy at this point.

Precise arrival time forecasts for the entire European rail network

If companies want to shift their transports from road to rail, they need to know where their goods exactly are to be able to coordinate loading processes as well as the onward transport at the transshipment terminal. Synfioo provides them with precise Estimated Time of Arrival forecasts for the entire European rail network and all connected operators. In addition, we integrate transport-based data and over 70 disruption sources into our calculations.

With the help of artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms, we are thus able to replace the common inaccurate forecasts to provide our customers with full supply chain transparency and maximum agility.

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