FFWD Fresh Rail is a fresh produce rail operator with several projects underway. The company’s current goals focus on expanding its services in East and South-East Europe. Simultaneously, it has plans for the port of Rotterdam that will transform into a hub for services across Europe. The dedicated train service already connects Spain with Northern Europe and Scandinavia in collaboration with Transfesa Logistics. With the FFWD door-to-door solution, it wants to prove that using rail to ship fresh goods is easy.
Setting up a dedicated train is not easy. Coordinating the whole supply chain door-to-door and controlling the shipments is challenging. Moreover, convincing that rail is capable of delivering these objectives is the biggest hurdle. “You need to think like a trucker rather than a rail company”, says Fred Lessing, Director Intermodal Solutions at FFWD Fresh Rail.
How it all started
For Lessing (working at Euro Pool System at that time), it all started with the idea of a fresh train between Valencia and Rotterdam. Euro Pool System, a logistics provider of reusable packaging, Bakker Barendrecht / Albert Hein, the biggest supermarket chain in the Netherlands, and Royal FloraHolland, a cooperative of growers, started the project called later CoolRail to find an alternative to road transport. They considered short-sea and rail solutions. The short-sea option was eliminated quickly due to time constraints while there were no rail connections between Valencia and the Netherlands to help set up the service.
Not much later, the CoolRail project started taking flesh and bones. The main prerequisites for the train were reasonable transit times and competitive pricing. The company conducted external research, and findings showed that a dedicated train service could save up to 90% of CO2 emissions.
After a trial of five months that proved the concept in 2016, Euro Pool System decided to run a company train. The starting point was in May 2019, and in May 2020 the project shifted to CoolRail Powered by Transfesa. For Fred Lessing the next step is to create a fresh rail network connecting all of Europe.
Making Rotterdam a hub
In cooperation with Transfesa Logistics, FFWD connects Valencia in Spain with Cologne in Germany several times per week. Scandinavian countries are also regular destinations. Specifically, from Cologne, the train departs to Denmark. After two stops in Denmark, it goes to Malmo in Sweden, and From Malmo, it travels to Oslo. In time, they will try to connect with Poland and the Czech Republic more efficiently.
In Scandinavia, there is a need for dedicated trains, so FFWD has plans for the Port of Rotterdam. It aims to shape it into a European distribution hub and create a corridor towards the Scandinavian countries. “Consolidating fresh corridors from Spain, Holland and overseas in Rotterdam CoolPort, we'll be able to organize trains to Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and countries in the east of Europe”, says Lessing.