I’m at European Transport Forum in Brussels, live blogging and live tweeting the event (tag: #ETF2011). I’m here at Cristina Riesen‘s initiative, and fellow bloggers Eurocentrique and Christian Wolmar are covering the event too.
European Transport Forum was started by Volvo and is supported by DHL, but it talks about all transport modes, and Christian and I are covering it as cycle and rail advocates.
One interesting issue was highlighted on the first panel. Volvo manufactures parts of truck cabs in Umeå, Sweden, and the trucks are assembled in Ghent, Belgium. To get the parts from Umeå to Gent, they use rail of course… Jan-Eric Sundgren, one of the panellists, was slightly tongue in cheek in saying that the train now needs 3 changes of locomotive, and averages 30km/h. This, he said, was progress – it used to need 5 changes of locomotive! This is a matter that’s very close to the topic of my MA thesis.
The only thing I don’t understand is why it’s still so slow and requiring 3 changes of locomotive. Green Cargo cooperates with DB Schenker (see this in Swedish), and class 185 locomotives can run from Sweden, through Denmark, to Germany (see final paragraph here). Change locomotive at Aachen, with SNCB for the final leg, and that should be it. Or did I miss something? Or are such through services still not economically competitive?
Freights do not go via the steeply graded route out of Aachen towards Verviers, so it’s quite possible that 3rd and 4th locos are required for transit via the Netherlands before entering Belgium. Safety systems for each national railway are required in addition to multi-voltage capability.
Do the trains run via Flensburg or one of the ferries from Denmark/Sweden?