Viking Rail, an inter-modal link created by Volvo Logistics and DB Schenker that connects megatrailer cargo between Scandinavia and Germany by rail, has resumed a 100% dedicated-cargo service for Volvo Logistics, including for group customers and external clients such as Volvo Cars.
The service, which initially started in 2008 in the same week that Lehman Brothers collapsed, had been at various times shared with other customers during the past two years. But thanks to recovery in production in Germany and Sweden, as of January the service is once again fully dedicated to Volvo, moving automotive components as well as packaging material, according to Viking Johansson, vice president of global business development at Volvo Logistics.
Viking Rail was awarded the Swedish Logistics Award for 2009 in the category of Innovation of the Year for Rail Freight, and was also selected as a case study by BestLog, an initiative of the European Commission to coordinate and spread logistics competence.
“Viking Rail is an excellent example of intermodal transport where two or more modes combine,” said Susanna Hambeson, Volvo Logistics’ environmental manager.
Viking Rail is part of Volvo Logistics goal of meeting a target set by Volvo Trucks to reduce CO2 emissions by 20% by 2010 compared to a baseline from 2006. The final results will be presented in mid 2011, but from 2006-2009 the company reduced emissions by 14%, according to Hambeson.
Other environmental measures cited by Hambeson include moving more than 50% of volume by sea, as measured in tonne kilometres.
The Volvo Group is also in favour of longer truck lengths in Europe, according to Hambeson. In Sweden, the maximum length for truck and trailer is 25.25 metres, compared to a wide variety of standards across the European Union, with many at a maximum length of 18.75 metres. Volvo Logistics also has special licenses to run several trucks between its facilities that are as long as 32 metres.
“Extending the truck length [to Scandinavian lengths] would mean two trucks could carry what three trucks currently carry. This would benefit both the environment and congestion on European highways,” she said.
According to Mike Sturgeon, executive director for the European Vehicle Logistics Association (ECG), his organisation is currently lobbying the European Commission to agree on a harmonised minimum length for loaded finished vehicle carriers of 20.75 metres.
Opponents to longer trucks, including both environmentalist and the rail lobby, have said that longer trucks would mean more cargo moved by road, as well as increased safety risks. Several states in Germany are currently trialling megatrailers with lengths up to 25.25 metres.