Russian Railway Station, Photo: WikipediaRail Freight

Conventional vs container

There has always been a fight between conventional wagons and railway containers for general cargo.

Containers on one hand is very simple, well-known, easy to organize, easy to sell. You don’t even hear anything about trains. You can have a container offer in a couple of hours at the latest. Railways containers offer very similar service to trucks and sea containers. Only thing clint has to chose the best rate&time combination between these options.

Conventionals, on the other hand, are highy complicated with a lot of transportation rules, different dimensions and limitations, you need to give a lot of details about the load in advance and preparing an offer may last sometimes weeks. Who will take all these in this speedy world?

The fight has almost been won by containers within the traffic between Europe and Turkey. For every 4 container trains, only 1 conventional has come to Turkey, and container trains are not satisfied and will continue to start new battles agains conventionals in near future as well. BSH, one of the few companies with railway connection in Turkey, took conventional wagons off the solution list. Ford Otosan, the most regular customer of conventional wagons for years had said farewell to convenitonal wagons.

Is it time to accept the defeat and end this hopeless fight?

Before giving the final decision, let’s try to answer the following questions:

  • Which container can load 3 mt wide loads without additional charges?
  • How can you bring your machines with 3,5 mt height?
  • Is it possible to provide sufficient number of containers for 1000 to load every week from Serbia to Turkey?
  • How can you transport 18 mt pipes to Europe? Or 1,4 mt diameter?
  • Forget the above question, how can you load non-palletized pipes to container?
  • What about the bulk loads? Possible to carry with containers? And efficient?
  • Can we bring a piece with 80 to? 50 to? 30 to?

Conventional wagons are the answers for all above questions where not only the containers but also the trucks fail to help in almost all of them.

Of course, until now, industry in Turkey could develop based on existing transportation capabilities, and rarely needed to answer those kinds of questions.

Pipe biz in Turkey is a good example. Until railways started offering service, pipe producers in Turkey could hardly compete with the European competitors in Europe without having the chance to transport 18 mt long pipes in cheap rates.

So rather than fighting with containers in the area where they are already stronger, it’s time for the “conventionalists” to discover the “blue ocean” in Turkey.


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