DB Schenker to launch ‘Bosporus Shuttle’ in September
DB Schenker Rail will start a new service between Germany and Turkey in September this year that will eventually offer five pairs of trains per week to enhance its existing service between Western Europe and Turkey. The service supports both finished vehicle and automotive parts deliveries.

Dubbed the ‘Bosporus Shuttle’ the service, which will begin with three pairs of trains a week, will cover 2,000km over five days and pass through Austria, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria. The service does not need to switch gauge, which is maintained at the 1,435mm standard along the route. DB Schenker Rail Bulgaria will transfer the trains directly to the Turkish State Railways. The final destination is Halkali near Istanbul.

Deployment of wagons on the service can include dedicated services for finished vehicles or a mix of freight wagons.

"We are able to offer this service to our customers thanks to DB Schenker Rail's powerful European network,” said Dr. Alexander Hedderich, CEO of DB Schenker Rail. “The high reliability of the transports is guaranteed because we have control over production quality in the region with our companies and are able to offer end-to-end corridor management.”

VW opens PDC in Tennessee
Volkswagen Group of America (VWGoA) has celebrated the grand opening of a $40m distribution centre serving the US Southeast sited in Roane County, Tennessee.

The Southeast Regional Distribution Center (SERDC) will be used for distributing domestic vehicle parts to global markets for the Passat assembled at the carmaker’s Chattanooga plant.

It will begin as a redistribution centre to service warehouses but will later expand to include a parts distribution centre. The redistribution depot will support the US, Canada, Mexico and Germany. When the expansion to a full parts distribution operation is reached the facility will help improve service parts order delivery times to over 110 dealers in the surrounding regions.

“This new facility serves as tangible proof of the clear commitment that Volkswagen Group of America has to meeting the needs of our dealers and our growing customer base,” said Anu Goel, vice president of Parts and Vehicle Logistics, Volkswagen Group of America. “Our continued investment in the US market affirms that Volkswagen Group of America is dedicated to the communities in which we do business.”

Highlighting its commitment to the North American market, Volkswagen Group plans to invest more than $5 billion in North America over the next three years in new products, technologies and infrastructure aimed at helping the company reach its long-term goals for the region.

Canadian Pacific cuts time cross country
North American rail provider Canadian Pacific (CP) has launched a faster intermodal rail service between Toronto and Calgary that will cut 20 hours from previous schedules and reduce the time taken across the 3,400km route to 64 hours. The initiative will improve asset utilization and meet customer demand according to the company, bringing more capacity and greater productivity of assets. 

“Customers are taking advantage of CP’s faster transit times in major intermodal corridors, and given Calgary’s importance as a Canadian distribution hub, improving this service is the next logical step,” said Jane O’Hagan, CP’s executive vice president and chief marketing officer. “We are helping our customers become more competitive in their own markets and offering previously unavailable options to business not currently shipping with CP.”

The time savings are exactly the sort of result that carmakers are looking for from their rail providers, as discussed at the recent Finished Vehicle Logistics North America conference held in Newport Beach, California.

Recognising the work the railroads had done in the last 12-18 months to improve productivity, Steve Tripp said there were still opportunities for further improvement, such as the time taken to move through interchanges in which anything between 24-48 hours wait at a terminal is seen as normal.

“Can you see that happening with airlines?” asked Tripp. “They are off in an hour.”

He admitted the situation was not as simple a comparison but saw potential for improvement in an area that had not been fully explored and talked about savings of $100m if just one day could be saved.

Tripp said that Chrysler shipped vehicles from Detroit to LA (around 3,800km) in ten days with an average train speed of 39kph.

“If they were running constantly it would take four day,” he said. “If you speeded that to 50mph [80kph] it would take two days. That is an 80% productivity improvement and would translate into billions of dollars for investment for railcars.”

Canadian Pacific’s latest result follows the success it had last year in shortening schedules from Vancouver to Chicago and Vancouver to Toronto. Those schedules removed a day from the 4,180km Toronto to Vancouver transcontinental trains and two days from the 3,540km Vancouver to Chicago train service.

Rolfo updates Ego transporter
Finished vehicle equipment providers Belle Trailers and Rolfo have recently hosted a special event in Essex, UK to introduce their latest 11-car transporter, the BelleRolfo Ego.

The trailer, which was first launched in 2011, has been subject to a number of design updates following feedback received from UK car carriers.

During the day the BelleRolfo team demonstrated a start/stop system and presented its Smart Witness Camera package, which provides up five cameras, a first on car transporters according to the company. The system recently won the Best Safety Fleet Product Award 2013.
Two transporters were used to demonstrate the latest developments, provided by companies A1 Automotive and Freeman Autologistics.

 “We see the car transporter sector staying very strong over the next couple of years as there is a shortage of transporters in the UK, especially during the March and September peaks” said Ian Carter from A1 Automotive. “We have invested heavily in the past two years in both fleet replacement and fleet upgrades and plan to continue this investment for the next couple of years by which time virtually our whole fleet will have been upgraded or replaced, I'm sure this will include more BelleRolfos.”
Rolfo UK Area Manager Davide Sobrino Belle Rolfo now had a number of vehicles on the road and the latest configuration had proven to be the most competitive and was user friendly.

“The transporter configuration is so easy to be picked up by every UK car transporter driver,” said Sobrino. “The large decks and simple load adjustment ensures a lower damage rate and this impacts immediately and positively upon profit and service to customers.”
SGS survey reveals overall dealer satisfaction
According to the latest SGS survey on Automotive Dealers Satisfaction, European automotive dealers are generally happy with the new contracts they are signing with OEMs, with just 2% expressing dissatisfaction. SGS provides inspection, verification, testing and certification services to the automotive industry.

In the survey premium dealers were the most satisfied of all. However, the survey revealed that there are substantial differences between how dealers rate the contracts between the lowest and highest performing OEMs. The study, conducted during March-April among more than 1,300 automotive dealers covering 17 brands in France, Germany, Italy and the UK, also sheds a very consistent light on insights and expectations on the level of bonuses and incentives: these are still assumed to be too low in relation to market needs and are expected to rise further across almost all brands.

“With the help of the data, manufacturers can gain insights in their competitive positioning regarding the dealer satisfaction with the new contracts, standards and bonus schemes”, said Roland Gagel, SGS global sector manager, Automotive and initiator of the study. “While SGS will not reveal the brand-specific results to the public, each OEM will get a mind-opening picture on where they stand by looking at their own specific data.”