How new transport solutions for railcars and locomotives empowers mobility and commerce around the world

With an estimated 1.1 billion individual journeys expected by 2028, according to Statista, railroads will remain as crucial pieces of infrastructure to transport people and goods. As ridership is expected to increase with 85 million new users by 2028, so too will the production of railcars and locomotives of along with increased demand on safe and reliable transportation solutions.

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A smooth journey for Australian-bound railcars

The first train, made up of six (6) railcars recently arrived at Port Kembla, Australia, onboard Themis. The new trains will replace the ageing NSW regional rail fleet of XPT, XPLORER and Endeavour trains in NSW. Coming in at 26m long and 45 tons in weight each, these railcars will provide a sustainable and comfortable form of mass transportation.

Jesper Lagerbäck – Acting Head of Global Industrial Account Development – says supporting these shipments is a key way that we can shape decarbonized transportation not just for the products we carry, but for individuals around the world.

“Rail cargo has always had a special place in the Wallenius Wilhelmsen heart as it unites our expertise of safe handling of complex cargo with our passion for a sustainable future” says Jesper.

Our technical experts worked directly with the manufacturer Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF) and their forwarder Kaleido to develop a unique solution to transfer horizontally from road transport to our special equipment and to allow the cargo to be rolled onto the vessel without any crane lifts. This solution ensured the railcars could be shipped fully assembled and without the risk of damage.

A different type of engineer

Over the years of shipping different types of rail products, our technical team of engineers have evolved and grown their solutions for how to properly load, lash and store units onboard our vessels. Fredrik Hedin – Breakbulk Technical Expert – must account for several factors to ensure the right combination of equipment and manpower to avoid any injuries or damages.

"The importance of preparation and knowledge when loading cargo like this, cannot be overstated. With over two decades of RoRo Breakbulk experience, I can identify possible issues and mitigate these immediately. The personnel involved in loading the cargo should always have the necessary skills, qualifications and awareness to ensure a safe and efficient loading process. I work within a team of highly qualified people with different expertise and backgrounds. We support each other to achieve best possible solutions for our customers.

For this shipment to Australia, the planning began with consultations with CAF and Kaleido back in Spain. To ensure a safe and smooth operation and considering weight and length on the high side, Fredrik proposed using the Multi-Purpose Boogies (MPBs). The solution was tested while the railcars were in storage to verify its viability and to make some adjustments.

To avoid transfer by crane lifts, that could potentially damage the railcars, we align the MPB´s with the road transport and slowly roll the railcars onto the MPB platforms.

Stevedores then block and lash the railcars to the MPBs to avoid any movement during transfer on terminal and during sea voyage. Once onboard the vessel, the railcars and cargo carrier equipment are secured to the deck.

The MPB solution also allowed for a smooth and efficient discharge in Port Kembla. Our technical experts attended the operation, and provided detailed instructions to the local stevedores to ensure they were fully prepared for the arrival of the rail cars.

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A global network of local expertise

Wallenius Wilhelmsen’s rail expertise extends across its network, including in one of the biggest global manufacturing hubs for rail stock in Spain. Our Spain team regularly supports the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and their forwarders to find transportation solutions for their various locomotives and railcars, with many shipments coming out of the Port of Santander.

“With WW technical expertise, with our range of specialized equipment and with the close collaboration developed with terminal operators and port authorities, WW RoRo solution offers additional value to rail customers,” says Raoul Vega, Head of Wallenius Wilhelmsen Iberia.

As governments around the world invest in their rail networks, many OEMs’ production schedules are completely booked and are needing to open additional facilities to handle the additional volumes. Jesper says Wallenius Wilhelmsen is poised to support these shipments of rail products from new locations.

“What truly sticks out to me is the amazing teamwork making these shipments possible and the strong partnership between CAF, Kaleido and our team. We have from the very start seen strong involvement from all parties, with our experts taking ownership, working closely with ports and stevedores and being present at every critical moment. This project embodies our values of care, commitment and willingness to challenge and serves as a blueprint for the future,” say Jesper.