ÖBB Rail Cargo Group is travelling daily on the New Silk Road

 In 2020, ÖBB Rail Cargo Group (RCG) transported more goods than ever before on the New Silk Road to and from China, around 70,000 TEU (twenty foot equivalent unit). This is twice the volume transported in the previous year of 2019. The number of freight trains was increased to over 700. ÖBB Rail Cargo Group aims to have 1,000 freight trains running on the Silk Road in 2021.

New Silk Road strengthens rail freight transport

“There can be no doubt that the Silk Road initiative is of enormous importance for Europe as well as for Austria, as it connects the European and Asian economies. Wealth and economic prosperity are created at trading points,” emphasises ÖBB CEO Andreas Matthä, adding, “We see a wide field of activity along the New Silk Road. Not only along the three rail corridors between Europe and Asia, but also as a carrier to the European ports where the maritime Silk Road docks – such as Hamburg, Rotterdam, Trieste, Koper and Piraeus, among others. This is where the RCG can contribute its efficient hinterland connections.”


Clients benefit from the powerful RCG network

As Europe’s second largest rail freight operator, ÖBB Rail Cargo Group is able to strengthen and expand its market position by expanding its Silk Road activities. RCG clients from Austria also benefit from the growing international network.

By connecting the New Silk Road to the dense and high-performance network of ÖBB Rail Cargo Group, fast shipments with efficient onward distribution in Europe are guaranteed. RCG is thus helping its clients to gain a global foothold more quickly after the Corona crisis and supporting them in their growth strategies for “getting out of the crisis”!

The top products shipped by RCG from Europe to China last year mainly included refrigerators, staple fibres, heating systems, machinery/ spare parts, and furniture and fittings. Goods from the fashion, automotive, chemical and health industries (protective masks), amongst others, were transported from China to Europe by rail.

Growing market along the New Silk Road

A recent study by the UIC (International union of railways) shows promising future market potential for rail freight transport between Europe and Asia. The conservative forecast expects container volumes to double, while the more optimistic outlook assumes that they will triple from 2020 to 2030. The RCG is also working with its partners along the route to reduce the average transport time of currently around 16 to 18 days between Europe and Asia by around 3 to 5 days in the coming years. This can be achieved through digitalisation measures and process optimisation. An average transit time of 10 days is the target by 2030.

RCG has been running services to and from Asia since 2008

Rail freight services have increased steadily since RCG activities began with the first test train in 2008. By the end of 2016, the number of departures along the Silk Road was gradually increased, and in 2017, RCG officially entered the Chinese market. At that time, 62 trains with a transport capacity of 3,000 TEU were operated by ÖBB Rail Cargo Group along the New Silk Road. As a result of the high demand, RCG was already transporting 35,000 TEU between Europe and Asia in each of the following two years. In 2020, a new record was set with over 700 trains and around 70,000 TEUs transported.

TransNET – the network

Available in nine languages with an intuitive user interface, TransNET, the ÖBB Rail Cargo Group’s new digital map, sets new standards in the European freight transport market. Users have three options to find their desired connection: They can choose from three possibilities: they can select “Go” and “Thanks” to choose the starting point and destination for their goods, they can find their connection using our well-arranged list view, or simply click on a location on our map. This opens up a world of possibilities, with TransFER connections and combinations that they can link up to best meet their needs. After selecting the relevant route, it is displayed on the map and shows which services are offered at the selected locations.

TransFER – the connection

The ÖBB Rail Cargo Group transports goods across the whole Eurasian continent with over 50 network connections and many customisable TransFER services. The transport units vary from entire wagonloads and intermodal transport through to complete customisable solutions. Additional freight services such as transshipment, warehouse logistics and customs services can be booked according to the place of departure and the destination. The RCG takes care of all the details – from the first to the last mile.

 SmartLINK – the access

The ÖBB RCG’s link to the digital RCG, and thus its entire range of services, can be found at www.smartlink.railcargo.com. SmartLINK not only makes rail easily accessible, it also gives a clear overview of all the steps that are needed to put freight transport on the rails. SmartLINK is the gateway into the digital world of rail logistics. It guides users through four areas: customers select pre-scheduled or customisable TransFER connections, they find out about the available equipment, services and add-ons relevant to them. The customer journey ends with them getting in touch with customer service representatives who create a unique offer with the customer.

Rail Cargo Group: the freight transport division of the ÖBB

The Rail Cargo Group is one of the leading rail logistics companies in Europe. We are the ones shaping the industry – 365 days a year – 24 hours a day. Across Europe and beyond into Asia. We connect people, businesses and markets – from the first to the last mile. It’s thanks to our 9,340 members of staff from 34 nations located in 18 different countries that 460,000 trains a year, which means 1,260 a day, reach their destinations safe and sound. With our efficient end-to-end logistics services, we transport 95 million net tonnes of freight each year. We have a modal share of 28.2% of the total freight market in Austria, which makes us top of the league in Europe. Every year, we save the climate from around 1.1 million tonnes of CO2 emissions in Austria. Operational management of the Rail Cargo Group lies with Rail Cargo Austria AG.

 ÖBB: Today. Tomorrow. Together.

As a comprehensive mobility and logistics service provider, the ÖBB Group’s eco-friendly transport services brought 287 million passengers and over 95 million tonnes of freight safely to their destinations in 2020. The electricity that powers the company’s trains and railway stations comes from 100 percent renewable energy sources. With a punctuality rating of around 97 percent in passenger transport, the ÖBB ranks as one of the most punctual rail companies in Europe. With annual investments in rail infrastructure of over three billion Euro, the ÖBB is building the railways of tomorrow. Across the Group, almost 42,000 members of bus and rail staff and around 2,000 apprentices make sure around 1.3 million travellers and 1,300 freight trains reach their destinations safely. The ÖBB is the backbone of the public transport system. As the largest eco-friendly business in Austria, the ÖBB brings people and freight wherever they need to go, safely and sustainably. The company’s strategic management lies with ÖBB-Holding AG.