As the curtain falls on 2023, it is time for our annual wrap-up. We reflect on a year marked by resilience, digital transformation, and a commitment to making railcar leasing easier. We have successfully navigated through a challenging economic climate, building on the successes of the past and getting ready for a promising future.
Johann Feindert, CEO of GATX Rail Europe, expresses gratitude for the continued trust of our customers and the dedication of our teams. “In the face of European economic and political challenges, we not only adapted but we thrived,” Mr. Feindert says. “Our commitment to provide a young and modern fleet with a wide selection of railcar types to serve all current and future transportation needs remains firm. I am pleased to report that we will soon be reaching our 30,000th railcar mark.” Anticipating future requirements, we have expanded and will continue to expand our fleet, including new pressure gas tank railcars, new grain railcars, various intermodal cars and – coming soon – new boxcars.
On top of the growing selection of railcars, we have succeeded in retrofitting our fleet with telematics solutions and offer state-of-the-art sensors to protect and optimize rail transport. “Combined with our customized telematics packages, we’ve also made headway in providing our customers with solutions that can easily be integrated into their logistics processes,” reports Mr. Feindert.
In terms of economic and political challenges, this year has underlined the need for a European transport policy that supports the modal split for rail. In many of the EU transit countries, road remains the transport mode of choice for both flexibility and economic reasons. Mr. Feindert states, “We’re not yet at a point where climate change mitigation is factored into the choice of transport mode, both in terms of cost and weight in the decision-making process. At the same time, the investment level and the level of maintenance of existing rail networks differs greatly from country to country.” At GATX Rail Europe, we are aware that the state of Europe’s rail networks has an impact on our leasing business. We are supporting initiatives that make rail transport more efficient and attractive across Europe, by playing an active part in many national and European organizations and associations. “A coherent transport policy and a well-kept rail network will benefit us all, our economy and the environment,” concludes Mr. Feindert.
Switching our angle from bird’s eye view to ground view, a key step in GATX Rail Europe’s growth strategy for 2023 and beyond was the implementation of our new Market-Driven Sales Organization. “We are known for our high-quality railcars and for service excellence,” explains Jörg Nowaczyk, CCO of GATX Rail Europe. “To keep the service level high with a growing fleet and customer base, we have positioned our sales and service teams on a more local level. At the same time, we are taking steps to become even more market and customer oriented while expanding our regional reach.” It is equally as important to us to prepare our teams for a successful future as it is to form a strong ecosystem consisting of our customers and partner organizations. “We’ve succeeded in both this year, introducing a new railcar type – grain cars at the Transport Fair in Munich this year with existing and new customers. And we’ve supported innovative approaches in rail transportation, such as MagRail with our partner Nevomo,” Mr. Nowaczyk says.
With the introduction of the GATX apprenticeship program, we welcomed young talents to our offices in Germany and Austria. In our in-house workshop in Ostróda, we celebrated 150 years of railcar service and maintenance, while keeping employee safety standards high, in the shop and during mobile maintenance efforts. Additionally, the workshop increased the investment to lower its environmental footprint by mounting photovoltaic solar panels and switching light bulbs to LEDs.
As the year draws to a close, Mr. Feindert and the Executive Team extend warm wishes for a joyful and peaceful holiday season and express gratitude for the growing partnerships with valued customers. With offices buzzing with activity and teams already immersed in preparations for 2024, GATX Rail Europe looks ahead with enthusiasm. The commitment to innovation and service remains steadfast as GATX strives to make railcar leasing easier for its clients in the evolving landscape of the rail industry.