Freight transportation reports, projects and other news from outside North America


Germany: Helrom launches block train for Audi

Earlier this month, Helrom GmbH began operating its first exclusive block train for luxury auto maker Audi AG. Helrom’s patented trailer wagon “makes it possible to load all types of truck semi-trailers onto a train without special terminals and cranes — a significant step towards more climate-friendly and efficient logistics,” Helrom officials said on April 4.

In combination with Duvenbeck's sustainable truck drive concepts for pre- and on-carriage, the new connection between Regensburg and Lebeny in Hungary will save up to 11,500 tons of CO2 emissions per year, Helrom officials said. 

The Helrom train travels 1,000 kilometers per round trip (Regensburg-Lebeny-Regensburg) in 24 hours. The loading and unloading takes place in Regensburg and Lebeny. 

Each train consists of 18 wagons that can transport 36 trailers, resulting in a weekly reduction in truck transport performance of around 185,000 kilometers, Helrom officials said. 

"By eliminating the need for special terminals for loading semi-trailers, we are integrating ourselves smarter into the supply chains, completely without detours,” said Helrom CEO Roman Noack. “We are also faster and more reliable than previous intermodal transport. The efficient networking of different technologies and transport routes such as road and rail to form a physical internet of semi-trailers via Helrom hubs as smart interfaces is key to achieving climate targets in freight transport." 


Germany, part 2: Hapag-Lloyd, Seaspan to convert five vessels to methanol propulsion 

Ocean carrier Hapag-Lloyd and container lessor Seaspan Corp. have entered a partnership agreement to retrofit and convert five 10,100 TEU container ships powered by conventional MAN S90 engines to dual-fuel engines capable of operating on methanol, officials from Hamburg, Germany-based Hapag-Lloyd announced on April 16.

Following the engine retrofit, the vessels will continue to be on long-term charter from Seaspan to Hapag-Lloyd. 

“The methanol retrofit project is a further step in our ambitious sustainability agenda, which aims to achieve the decarbonization of the entire fleet by 2045,” said Hapag-Lloyd Chief Operating Officer Maximilan Rothkopf. “By enabling these vessels to use green methanol as of 2026, we will meet our customers’ growing demand for green transportation solutions.” 

“Retrofitting must be an integral part of the strategy if the container shipping industry wants to deliver on its decarbonization targets,” added Seaspan COO Torsten Holst Pedersen.

The retrofit is expected to take 80 to 90 days per vessel and will begin in first-quarter 2026. The total retrofit cost is about $120 million, officials said. 


Brazil: DP World, rail operator to build grain/fertilizer terminal at Port of Santos 

DP World and Brazilian railway operator Rumo are building a $500 million, state-of-the-art terminal at the Port of Santos that will be able to handle 12.5 million tons of grains and fertilizers annually, DP World officials announced on April 3. Construction is expected to take 30 months.  

Under a 30-year agreement, DP World will provide the terminal area located on the left bank of Brazil’s Port of Santos to Rumo and assume responsibility for operations and port services. 


Finland: Meriaura orders two biofuel-powered cargo vessels

Finnish shipping company Meriaura has signed a delivery contract for two Ecotrader cargo ships with the Dutch shipyard Royal Bodewes, Meriaura officials announced on April 15. To be built in Hoogezand, Holland, the 105-meter-long ships are scheduled to be delivered in January and December 2026. 

The Ecotraders have been designed to “achieve the lowest possible emission levels,” Meriaura officials said.

“This order is a continuum in our series of investments to energy-efficient tonnage that utilizes bio-oil,” said Meriaura CEO Beppe Rosin. “In the current geopolitical situation, we found it best to order the ships from an established shipyard operating in Western Europe, which is also in line with our ESG strategy.” 

The international maritime organization IMO has set the goal for carbon-neutral shipping by or around 2050. Meriaura’s climate strategy aims for carbon neutrality by the 2030s. 


Namibia: African Global Logistics inks pact to manage Port of Walvis Bay terminal 

Last month, Africa Global Logistics (AGL) signed a contract to manage the Port of Walvis Bay’s multipurpose bulk terminal in Namibia, located on the southwest coast of Africa. 

To drive economic growth in the region, AGL plans to facilitate access to Southern African Development Community markets and invest in modern infrastructure, company officials said. 

AGL also aims to support Namibia’s energy, mining and industrial projects by offering integrated services, officials said. 


Spain: APM Terminals Gijon hosts largest container vessel in Port of El Musel’s history 

Earlier this month, APM Terminals Gijon efficiently operated the largest container ship ever to call the Port of El Musel on Spain’s northern coast. The MSC KATYAYNI, a 275-meter long, 40-meter-wide vessel, berthed at the terminal for 33 hours, during which 740 containers were loaded and discharged, port officials said on April 9.  

Last year’s arrival of a post-Panamax QC903 ship-to-shore crane, combined with improvements to operational capacities as the result of Lean working methodologies adopted by APM, enabled the terminal is to efficiently handle the larger vessels, APM officials said. 

The new crane has a capacity for 40 tons of nominal load, 33 meters of height under spreader (eight more than the crane it replaces) and a 16-rows outreach (three more than the crane it replaces). For vessels exceeding 250 meters, the terminal offers a maximum draft of 10.2 meters. 


India: Indian Railways to record best-ever freight volume, revenue in fiscal year, Ministry of Railways says 

Indian Railways is on pace to record the best performance in its recorded history in freight volume and total revenue for the fiscal year ending March 31, Ministry of Railways officials said earlier this month. 

According to preliminary data, Indian Railways surpassed the 1,500 million-ton originating freight loading mark on March 15, ahead of last fiscal year’s pace, officials said. As of March 15, the railway’s total revenue stood at Rs 2.40 lakh crore; on March 15, 2023, total revenue was Rs 2.23 lakh crore, officials said. 


Austria: Plasser & Theurer registered 31 inventions in 2023  

Plasser & Theurer registered 31 patents in 2023, the third most by one Austrian company, officials for the track maintenance technology company said on April 9. 

Since 1953, the company has registered 10,000 patents, more than 2,500 are still valid, company officials said, citing the recently published annual report of the Austrian Patent Office.