Ekol Logistics, had big success with the combined service between Turkey and Germany by taking the trucks via RORO vessel and then by ROLA train.
Shortly, semi trailers are taken to Haydarpaşa by trucks, placed in roro vessel in port, shipped to Trieste port, then put on to ROLA train specially designed for carrying semi trailers and taken to terminal in Germany. There, trucks take the trailers to final PODs. Almost all modes of transportation take part in this organization.
Appearently, this combination succeeds on using the advantages of each mode, flexibility of reaching to any point by truck at first and last mile, low costs of vessel where possible, and train where vessel fails to reach. No need to worry about railway connectivity at consignors and consignees, road and weather conditions, border passings and driver management. Almost as fast as truck, and not so expensive. Excellent combination.
While Ekol increases the number of ROLA trains, Mars Logistics started a similar service to Benelux area. Meanwhile, cross passing of Austria for trucks become harder day by day, and they’re directed to ROLA trains running in Austria as well.
So is ROLA our future? Should we expect to see more and more trucks on rail?
A simple check can be done by examining the usage of ROLA trains in Europe. Opps.. It may be suprising to see that almost all of the trucks carried by ROLA trains are Turkish.
So there must be some reasons that Turkish customers prefer ROLA trains to other trains, where European customers do not. Here are some answers:
- There’s almost no plant in Turkey with railway connection producing for Europe. This means, truck is still a indispensable part of the transportation.
- Almost no company in Turkey is using hub systems in Europe, but prefers to send directly from Turkey. Hubs mostly well-connected to railways encourages direct usage of trains.
- Road permissions force Turkish trucks to use ROLA where European trucks mainly free to move on wheel.
- Turkish customers mostly have an order system based on truck capacity. Any epuipment with different dimensions is not helping them even it’s better.
- Customs procedures in Turkey is supporting the trucks more than any other.
But, these are the facts of today, and can change.. And is changing..
At the end, ROLA needs to carry the deadweight of truck, and needs additional handling at both ends, and causes delays at every terminal/port, and limited with the rules of trucks and trains at the same time.
Could ROLA be the best solution for the transportation between two railway connected warehouses/sites? Not really. And we’ll hear more success stories of conventional trains in the future.