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LG Cargo, PKP Cargo and CargoBeamer team up to pilot an intermodal train with semi-trailers

The first semi-trailer transport by freight train in the Baltic States took place last week, when on the 14th of May, the train with 22 semi-trailers arrived in the Šeštokai railway station in Lithuania from the Central Europe. The two-day-pilot transportation of semi-trailers was initiated and supervised by the Lithuanian Railways freight company LG Cargo together with its partners, the intermodal transport operator CargoBeamer AG and PKP CARGO S.A, one of the largest railway freight companies in Poland.

Video of the pilot was published on CargoBeamer's YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/Au2teJdMTOc

LG Cargo, a freight transportation company owned by the largest railway group in the Baltic States, Lithuanian Railways  (Lietuvos Gelezinkeliai), has joined forces with PKP Cargo, the largest railway freight transport operator in Poland and intermodal transport operator and technology provider CargoBeamer, to pilot an intermodal train with road semi-trailers.  

On the 14th of May, a train carrying 22 semi-trailers arrived in Šeštokai terminal in Lithuania after a two-day trip from Kaldenkirchen Intermodal Terminal, located near the border between Germany and Netherlands. This was the first semi-trailer transport by freight train ever in the Baltic States. 

During the pilot, semi-trailers of eight transport and logistics companies – Girteka Logistics, Vlantana, Hoptransa, A. Gricius’s, DSV, Arcese, Solotransa and Nokvera – were delivered. Loaded on a special train wagon technology provided by CargoBeamer, semi-trailers reached Šeštokai by the European gauge Rail Baltica. At the Šeštokai terminal they were connected again to the trucks, which drove the last mile to the final unloading point. 

Turning point in the freight market 

“This historic pilot carriage of semi-trailers symbolizes a major turning point in the freight transportation market, where synergies between several modes of transport guarantee fast and reliable freight transportation for all participants in the logistics chain. However, the biggest achievement of such transportation is the environmental friendliness and reduction of the negative impact of heavy vehicles on the environment. We hope that the new practice will strengthen the advantages of each of the modes of transport – the economy and environmental friendliness of rail transport in long-distance transportation, and the flexibility of road transport when delivering freight door-to-door,” said Egidijus Lazauskas, CEO of LG Cargo. 

"This pilot is of great importance to us as it will make it possible to test new possibilities for freight transport from Lithuania via Poland to Western Europe and in the opposite direction. This route is currently dominated by road transport and we want to change this unfavorable structure. Therefore, together with our partners, we work on preparing a competitive transport offer. This is a business project but our efforts will also have positive impact on environmental protection. Railways are more environment-friendly than road transport as they release much less harmful gases into the atmosphere and the European Union expects that member states will make efforts to gradually increase the share of railways in freight transport. In addition, trains provide safe transport of goods, compared to trucks, as the accident rate in railways is many times lower than on roads“, stated Czeslaw Warsewicz, CEO of PKP CARGO. 

"CargoBeamer has been interested in a train between Lithuania and the Rhein-Ruhr region in Germany since its first visit to Kaunas ten years ago. It is an exciting opportunity, and thanks to a great cooperation with Lithuanian Railways we can see this initial vision materialize now. Lithuania is the home of several big logistics players and we see a future market for sustainable rail transportation of road trailers from central Europe into the Baltics. We look forward to grow this business together with Lithuanian Railways," said Hans-Juergen Weidemann, CEO of CargoBeamer. 

100 tons less CO2 

The pilot route Kaldenkirchen-Šeštokai-Kaldenkirchen will cover about 3000 kilometers and will transport 45 semi-trailers in total, as 23 semi-trailers will be transported on a train return to Kaldenkirchen.  

It is estimated that this will help to reduce the CO2 released into the environment by up to 100 tons compared to the carriage of semi-trailers separately by trucks. By comparison, a weight of 100 tons would make up 16 elephants, or if we measure it in cubic meters, it would be equal to the size of 25 hot-air balloons. 

The long-distance transportation of semi-trailers by rail is encouraged by the European Union (EU), as it has a lower impact on the environment and increases road safety. It is also beneficial for logistics and road transport companies, as it saves fuel and human resources. In addition, it is easier and faster to cross borders between countries, thus avoiding long downtime and possible delays at customs. 

The European Commission aims to achieve that 30% of goods carried by more than 300 kilometers would be transported by rail or water transport by 2030, and by 2050 this figure should exceed 50%.