At the moment, the German transport policy for rail freight traffic (RFT) can be referred to as the “European Guideline Policy“: The “Master Plan, Rail Freight Traffic” and the implementation objectives derived from it in the new German Federal coalition agreement give a clear picture.
There is no doubt that the politics is making a renewed attempt to resolve the contradiction between the convincing advantages of rail freight traffic and the declining market share. For keepers, the acceleration of digitalization and the development of further technical innovations for rail vehicles belong to today’s most pressing tasks.
There is a strong political will to establish suitable framework conditions, but now a large part of the responsibility for the implementation lies in the transport sector’s own hands. Already in 2011, the EU had set clear requirements in the “White Paper on Transport” in order to optimize the efficiency of the RFT, but the implementation succeeded only very slowly – the reasons for this are well-known. Against the current favourable political background, I would like to highlight the tasks in this article for GATX Rail Europe that result from this. It is our goal to make a noticeable contribution to the success and to the attractiveness of rail freight traffic for the very special transport requirements of our customers.
INTELLIGENT TOTAL COST OF USE REDUCTION
The focal point of our efforts is the reduction of the “Total Cost of Use/Total Cost of Ownership” of our cars, because our freight railcars, despite generally rising costs, should remain deployable under attractive conditions. We are able to do this through a combination of measures on which GATX has been consistently working for some time within the scope of its 2020 Corporate Strategy:
- The digitalization of the maintenance process, due to its great potential, must be emphasized as with it, lower downtime and an (indirect) reduction of the costs per unit of payload can be achieved. The focus is on the generation of detailed data streams from the operation of the wagons that not only enable better management of operation for us but also for our customers. To this belong, obviously, the monitoring of movements and additional sensor technology on the wagon for the monitoring of the loading status or unusual events. These points will be a part of an integrated deployment and condition-based maintenance concept. In order to obtain the expected benefits from the data streams, the manufacturing industry is also similarly working on the required solutions and standardized data interfaces as intensively as the keepers on their business processes.
- Our quality of service for the customer must continue to improve. A part of the GATX vision is to be the preferred partner of our customers – and, naturally to remain so. For this we need, in addition to our expert team and highest level of the quality of advice, an additional, even more customer-friendly overall interface. To this belongs not only the adaptation of our business model, but also electronic communications solutions which make the processes even simpler and even allows the (partial) automation. We believe that through this there is still more time to define, in personal discussions with our customers, common areas of activity where and how we can contribute to the optimization of transportation.
- The railcars must be further improved for their use by the customer – with simultaneous fulfilment of the increasing density of regulations. Already today, innovations on railcars are of great importance and are classified by the GATX management team as the most important individual strategies in our 2020 strategy. In 2017 we implemented four specific new car features, the market introduction of which is running successfully. And in 2018 we again have railcar-related innovations in progress. Here, the focal points are the maximization of the payload, the optimization of the durability and new, reliable design solutions on the railcars which often combine with proven concepts. Nearly always, the ideas for innovative solutions arise out of open, trusting customer discussions: Therefore, I would like to invite all our customers to include us in their internal discussions on the search for improvement potential. Because I am firmly convinced: We can make a significant contribution to the optimization of the transport requirements!
PLEASE CONTACT US
If we anchor these tasks as permanent objectives in our organisation, not only our customers, but also GATX will be able to benefit from the numerous advantages of rail freight transport. We are very much looking forward to it.
Therefore, please don’t hesitate to talk to your GATX contact person or also to me personally, or to send us an e-mail: How can we be of better service to you?
I thank you on behalf of all my colleagues at GATX Rail Europe for allowing us to be your partner for your rail transportation needs!
CEO GATX Rail Europe