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Interview with Friedrich Macher, general manager of Rail Cargo Austria

on .

The economic crisis overtook the rail freight as well as the whole logistics sector. Friedrich Macher gives an account about the reasons why the ecological solutions become more important even so, and what kind of opportunities open for small and medium size enterprises in this field.  

The economic crisis seriously affected the logistics sector. How much did Rail Cargo Austria experience from its effect?
Of course we could not avoid the effect of the crisis, but our market revenue only dropped by 13%, which is the most favorable result among the European railways. The 3% loss of year 2009 was also the smallest rate, compared to the 6% - 60% loss of European railways. Accordingly, we completed well, fulfilled our duties.

How will you be able to manage out from the crisis?
We successfully improved our market shares against the other competition partners and we gained new businesses to a limited extent. In accordance with our new structural and innovation projects, we have prepared for year 2010. Green, ecofriendly logistics strategies belong here, in which we group carriage goods by rail- services around ecological factors. Consequently the service will be competitive against the road transportation and will make an opportunity to implement the ecological objectives.

Is there a larger need for ecological solutions?
Yes, above all, on the part of the large domestic and international enterprises, where corporate social responsibility and ecological scale play an important role. In general freight transportation we are already capable to inform our partners about the CO2 emission size for the particular shipments and we will be able to do this concerning all of our services.

How much of CO2 emission do railways mean opposite public road?
Carrying goods by rail means a 16 times less CO2 emission than the public road transportation.

To what extent did the economic crisis direct the attention on the railways?
30% of freight is done by the railways in Austria, the European average is 10%.  The rate had been rising for several years, but the dumping-prices of the Eastern European road transporters made the road transportation attractive again during the crisis in respect of transit traffics. We are working on joining forces and without harming ourselves economically we make competitive offers to our clients.

How does such an offer look like?
We analyze the complete logistics system of the company before the proposal is made. From the delivery of the raw material till the detrain of the finished goods. We check from the ecological point of view, in which area, we may choose the best solutions. This may re-organize the procedures at the company for a more structured operation. The ecological effect adds to this!

Are small and medium size enterprises any interested in railway transportation?
We provide services for small and medium size enterprises in the different business units of ours. Kontraktlogistik business unit does stock management, order compilations, commission executions, distribution and is a market leader in Austria. This service operates outside Europe within narrow limits as well.  The last part of  shipping is done mostly on public road. On this part we provide services for small and medium size businesses belonging to all sectors.

What is the advantage of railways? 
Whatever commodity it may be, railway comes to the forefront when large quantities must be shipped long distance. In the collective and individual cargoes, integrated logistics solutions are required, which is also possible in the case of small and medium size enterprises.

You can hear from small and medium size enterprises, that railways are not flexible.
There are optimal solutions for us too, but the truth is that the procedure must be comprehensively considered and planned. Instant shipping solution shall be changed into a more grounded system, this is the precondition of rail freight. But this time it means a more intelligent solution than road transportation. Reliability also raises. But what we experience from the side of the small and medium size enterprises is resistance. If everybody cooperates, beautiful solutions may be created as for example, the logistics of wine production indicates it in Austria. The wine is shipped from the cellar to the station by truck. The next section of its way is on railway and from the destination station to the local dealer it is again shipped by truck.

How fast may a rail transport be organized?
It may be organized in a few hours from the time of establishing the contact. We have efficient regional logistics centers. If the freight may be combined with other orders, the expenses are lower of course.

From how large of an order quantity is it worth it?
In the case of distances under 300kms and of small quantities, a well scheduled system is needed for the railway to be an alternative. Its advantages manifest in the case of large quantities. Therefore does Rail Cargo Austria have subsidiaries abroad.  

How is it paid off?
We operate with our own colleagues and locomotives in foreign countries. Or we cooperate with partner enterprises according to the kind of openings of local partners. The advantage provided by our company is reliability and an international network above all. This is how we are represented along the Adriatic through the Ostsee to the Black See.  

How can the ecologically preferential railway logistics become more attractive?
Similar to the whole logistics sector, railway logistics must face major fluctuations concerning the global supply-chains and orders. We have to control this as we have to satisfy the expectations of our customers concerning the services. We would like to move the rate of railway freight from 30% to 40% together with politics and economy. In order to fulfill this, the infrastructure and freight terminals are being expanded and upgraded. The competitiveness of international railway may be achieved by establishing an infrastructure covering Eastern Europe completely.  

(source: die-wirtschaft)

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