Each week the Colruyt Group ships several containers of citrus fruit by Cool Rail, a new rail link for fresh produce between Valencia and the Port of Cologne. Upon arrival, trucks transport the containers to the distribution centre in Halle and return the empty crates to Cologne. The Cool Rail link is a sustainable alternative to road transport. The number of kilometers each container travels by truck is reduced by 83%, which results in CO2 reduction. The Colruyt Group sees this initiative as part of their attempts to pursue sustainable transport.
Always full containers
Colruyt Group can optimize the return trips with this new link, because at the location where the citrus fruit is unloaded, the containers are loaded with clean EPS (Euro Pool System) folding crates to transport back to Cologne. “This way containers are always fully loaded for every journey,” states the Project Leader Import Wim Verghote. “And the combined Valencia-Cologne-Halle journey only takes one more day than driving the entire stretch by truck. So the freshness of the produce is guaranteed.”
Soon Cool Rail can also transport other fresh produce, such as broccoli and lettuce, for Colruyt Group from Valencia to Cologne. In November, each week two trains will travel to Cologne and the aim is to increase the amount of trips to five per week, as more partners join the initiative.
Cool Rail matches with Colruyt Group’s attempts to increase the sustainability of international transport, for instance by switching from road transport to rail and maritime transport. Of the products imported by Colruyt Group from other European countries, over half were transported by train or boat. This decreased last year’s amount of kilometers by truck by 3,177,000 kilometers. “We are pleased to be part of this initiative,” continues Wim Verghote. “And we will continue to look for new opportunities to further reduce the impact of our transport.”
Co-operation across borders
Cool Rail is an international initiative with six retail, logistics and transport partners from the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. Wim Verghote explains: “It’s remarkable that so many partners work together on sustainable transport. Hopefully, this initiative will inspire others too.”
Cool Rail was founded by Bakker Barendrecht, a Dutch fruit and vegetable wholesaler, and the logistics company Euro Pool System, and supported by the Port of Rotterdam. They worked together with the Mercator Novus consultancy to develop and start Cool Rail. In addition to Colruyt Group the retailers Albert Heijn and Edeka (Germany) are also taking part in Cool Rail.
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