Nothing to see here, or is there??

Advantages

When built today, road transport corridors across Western Europe will cost £23m per motorway mile. The rail equivalent is £8m per mile. The inclusion and expansion of Eastern Europe in the larger Euro Zone is characterised by existing comprehensive rail networks but a lack of a network of motorways. This also applies across the Indo-China continents.

Historically, the Western European and USA experience is that motorway expansion produces wider congestion, environmental damage and an imbalanced transport system. Where the rail infrastructures exist, the experience of Western Europe should enable most other areas to promote only local road distribution.

FOCAL earth's rail optimisation system, designed and accepted by the EU Marco Polo programme for multiple companies in dedicated supply corridors, is based upon 'fit for purpose' locomotives and wagons and European Economic Interest Groups. the precise product of any supply chain environment.

New Suppliers

With national and EU de-regulation has come an increase in local and international competition. New operator licences have been granted on national and international basis in order to create the single market competitive pressures, obligations and performance measures on the traditional incumbent rail freight services operators. Their intention is to encourage modernisation and new working practises to accommodate the appropriate prescriptive training, leading to higher standards of operation and competitiveness.

Lengthening Supply Chains & Security

Major automotive and FMCG manufacturers are now building plants nearer their new customer markets. As a result, the length of the supply chains between component manufacturers and OEMs has lengthened substantially. Increasingly, security of goods in transit has become an issue. Rail offers a far greater opportunity to protect and guard such goods.

Constraints on Road Based Logistics Growth

Almost on a daily basis, new legislation adds additional restrictions or costs to road haulage operations. In comparison, the rail environment is receiving support for the mass carriage of volume goods over long distances, where economies of scale alone make rail logistics highly competitive providing high standards of reliability and service are met.

Commercial Investment Availability in All Sectors

Rail infrastructures, including locomotives (traction) leasing/acquisition, wagons leasing/acquisition, rail routes, sidings and terminals, warehousing and storage, have become increasingly viable investments, most particularly in locations beyond the USA and Europe.

Major European locomotive investment in this sector can be referenced at a number of web-sites. For example, Angel Trains Limited's (www.angeltrains.com) published strategy is to expand its footprint beyond Europe.

For the latter part of the 20th century European rail networks were starved of investment. Now a new Angel Train locomotive allows rail freight to be transhipped, without stopping, from the Black Sea to the UK, a capacity of 1500 tonnes over 3000 + kilometres in 24 hours. Rail thus offers comparable freight rates to road and sea transhipments.

Now, making better use of the existing wagon fleets in harness with the rail operating companies making the best use of their networks capacity, has enabled FOCAL to develop a rail optimisation system offering 'interest groups' a mechanism to avoid the general wasted rail capacity in the back haul element.

The FOCAL earth BHT Rail Opti-Train System first designed for the automotive sector can be configured for other 3PL operations.

FOCAL earth has high-level contacts in most of these global investors, recognising and delivering each particular investor's investment objectives in the multifarious levels of rail infrastructure and operation In line with all of the above reasoning, innovative private and commercial sector investors from all over the world are being attracted to the potential of long-term returns in the European rail industry.

New Potential Customers Needing New Logistics Alternatives

The largest driving force for the enlargement and modernisation of global rail freight services is the recognition of rail as being a viable alternative to long haul road haulage throughout Europe by major global OEM manufacturers. With the gradual easing and dismantling of the many previous, 'artificially protective' barriers to effective and competitive rail operation continuing throughout the EU and 'border states', programmes of gauge standardisation and the designation of 'freight only' lines, once again rail freight operators can begin to offer major, new customers a quality alternative to expensive, low unit volume road haulage.

Todays Enviroment

Examples of New Political Pressures on Road Haulage include:

  • Climate Change Legislation and Levies
  • Congestion Charging and Road Tolling
  • Rising Fuel and Operational Costs and Taxes
  • Worker Regulations, including
  • Working Time Directives
  • Increasing Licensing Qualification
  • Exclusive Weekend No-Driving Zones
  • Speed Limiters
  • Double Driver Legislation

The Indo-China Experience

While in the late 1990's low-cost manufacturing in the Far East and China seemed to herald the panacea of achieving improved profitability for high volume OEMs, the early years of the 21st century demonstrated that the substantial increase in logistics costs, damage and delivery date unpredictability significantly negated many of the anticipated benefits. Furthermore, the philosophies of local (close to market), flexible (model and volume) manufacturing increasingly led to manufacturing plants being built in the locations of the liberalising and increasingly wealthy markets across the world.

For the next decade at least, therefore, the issues of logistics costs, efficient pan-European supply chains and product security would seem to be a dominant features in many global OEM's considerations.