The components are loaded onto trains in Slatinany (in the Czech Republic).

Multimodal service from the Czech Republic to Russia

The customer was actually leaning toward lorry transport. But ultimately, the exceptional cross-border consignment and switch to rail was a win-win scenario — both for the customer and DB Cargo.

FANS AS, a Czech manufacturer of cooling towers, is particularly active in Eastern Europe and Asia. Recently, the company put out a call for tenders for the transportation in two project phases of power station components from Slatinany in the Czech Republic to Kaliningrad in Russia. DB Cargo won the contract. The original plan was to use 500 lorries for transport. “But in the first phase of the project, we succeeded in persuading the customer that rail transport would be a better fit,” says Jan Rajnoch, Head of Sales at DB Cargo Czechia. Initially, says Rajnoch, 150 lorries were already classified as wide loads. “Then we cut the number of lorries we had originally slated for this phase from 260 down to eight, which were still going to be used in parallel.”

Four different wagon types with special platforms

Ultimately, six trains with a maximum length of 600 m and pulling 25 to 37 wagons were used in the first phase of the project. The trains ran on standard-gauge tack from the Czech Republic to Dzerzhinskaya Novaya, their destination station in Russia. From there, all of the freight was loaded onto lorries and hauled to the building site in Kaliningrad. The customer placed special requirements on both the loading and packaging processes for the construction components: in the first project phase, four different types of wagons were used along with closed wagons and wagons with special platforms.

Customs clearance headaches

 DB Cargo Czechia takes on responsibility for the entire logistics chain — from loading the trains in Slatinany, to operating the rail routes in the Czech Republic, Poland and Russia, to transhipping the cargo at the destination station in Russia and transporting it by road on the last leg of the journey to the building site in Kaliningrad.

You don’t see how tall the cooling tower is until the parts are assembled.

DB Cargo Czechia collaborated with DB Cargo Polska and DB Cargo Russija to tackle the first phase of the project. The project is challenging, especially from a customs clearance perspective. The goods are leaving the EU, after all. The standardised CIM/ SMGS consignment note is used to simplify the processes at the Russian border. A special security service stands watch over the trains at the station “The excellent communication and transparent collaboration between Cargo Czechia, DB Cargo Polska and Russian Railways (RZD) have enabled us to compensate for the trains’ idle time at the Polish-Russian border station at Braniewo-Mamonovo,” says Jan Rajnoch. The wagons’ idle time is also cut by using automation, which comes with a special service: considering the high value of the goods being transported (two to four million euros per train), DB Cargo Czechia offers its customers a special security service if trains have to stop at a station. Usually, such a service is extended only to military transports.

Complex logistics solutions for a demanding project

According to Rajnoch, DB Cargo not only succeeded in beating the competition to win the tender for this demanding project, but “also took the opportunity to showcase its unique position on the rail transport market.” This position is all about offering complex logistics solutions to industrial customers, ranging from rail transport to re-loading, last-mile transport with lorries, and even customs clearance. DB Cargo is a one stop shop for everything.” The project, Rajnoch continues, shows that the combined efforts of rail transport partners can yield better logistics solutions than road transport alone could ever offer.

The environment benefits too

Moving transport onto rail also had a positive impact on the environment: the use of electric locomotives over long distances in the Czech Republic and Poland substantially cut CO2 emissions.