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


Australasian Railway Association: More women joining rail ranks, particularly in the C-suite

The number of female leaders in the rail industry continues to climb, particularly at the CEO level, with more women joining its ranks at nearly every level, according to gender diversity research issued recently by the Australasian Railway Association (ARA).

Based on the Australian Government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) survey, the ARA's 2024 Gender Diversity Report showed 26% of rail CEOs were female in 2022-2023, up from 16% in 2020-21.

The report, which surveyed about 220 rail organizations from April 2022 to April 2023, found female participation in the rail workforce overall rose from 24% in 2020-21 to 28% in 2022-23.

“It is very encouraging to see more women enter the rail industry — and actually stay and climb the ranks — than in previous years," said ARA CEO Caroline Wilkie. "However, the industry and governments must do everything possible to attract more women to rail to plug a significant workforce gap and ensure we are able to deliver on the record $154 billion infrastructure investment in rail over the next 15 years."

The freight sector had the greatest increases of female workers, with female participation increasing to 30% of employees, up from 26 per cent in 2020-21.

Overall, 25% of managerial positions were held by women, compared with a national average of 42%, and 36% of promotions went to females — an increase from 32% in 2020-21, but still lower than the WGEA national average of 47%, the report showed.

ARA represents more than 230 rail industry organizations in Australia and New Zealand.


Port of Salalah: 'We've got new alternatives to the Red Sea route'

In response to the lingering Red Sea blockade, the Port of Salalah launched a range of multi-modal service options designed to provide alternatives to re-routing around the Cape of Good Hope, port officials announced on May 9.

Located in Oman, the port is on the main ocean routes connecting south and east Asia with Europe, North Africa and the Americas, and the upper gulf with East Africa. The new multimodal solutions “cost-effective and fast alternatives between Asia the United States East Coast and European destinations,” port officials said.

For example, an in-transit overland route by truck connects to Jeddah, which is located in “the safer mid-point of the Red Sea” in Saudi Arabia, port officials said, adding the overland route takes four to five days. The journey then can continue via container vessel through the Suez Canal to Europe or the U.S. East Coast.

Meanwhile, a sea-air option provides a faster alternative for time-sensitive cargo into and out of Europe, port officials said. Upon discharge in the Port of Salalah, cargo is transferred to Salalah or Muscat airports, or Jebel Ali, depending on availability of airlift capacity and connections. The service can reduce transit times by 20% to 40% compared with traditional east-west trade routes, officials said.

The port’s annual capacity is 5 million twenty-foot equivalent units; projects are underway to boost capacity by 30%, port officials said.


Hapag-Lloyd, IKEA partner to reduce CO2 emissions

Hapag-Lloyd "entered a cooperation" with IKEA Supply Chain Operations to decarbonize container shipments originating from Asia, the ocean carrier announced on May 7.

Under the agreement, IKEA will use Hapag-Lloyd’s highest product option for biofuels Ship Green 100 from March 2024 to February 2025. Ship Green 100 comprises waste- and residue-based biofuel instead of conventional marine fuel oil. The "expected result" for IKEA during this period is a CO2 emission reduction of around 100,000 tons, Hapag-Lloyd officials said.

IKEA's goal is to reduce the relative greenhouse gas emissions from their product transportation by 70% by 2030, and to only use zero emission heavy duty vehicles and ocean vessels by 2040.


Container xChange: 'Geopolitical tensions and uncertainties' trigger container rate volatility in China 

Container rates in China are "experiencing rapid fluctuations, with new prices emerging almost every 48 hours, due to geopolitical tensions and uncertainties," according to the Container xChange's May Forecaster Report.

Container prices in China have reached an average of $2,500-$2,700 for 40-foot-high cube containers, according to the report, which was issued May 6.

Container xChange data also revealed rising leasing rates from China to the United States and Europe through April, as well as increased depot utilization rates since the Houthi attacks in November. 

“Despite the recent price hikes, we're observing a market that is not yet fully tight," said Christian Roeloffs, cofounder and CEO of Container xChange, a platform for container trading and leasing. "Containers are still available, depots are not operating at full capacity, and while prices are increasing, it's not at the rapid rate we saw during the post-COVID demand pent-up period. The situation is improving for stakeholders, but not significantly. Demand prospects remain subdued, and the price hikes are primarily driven by uncertainty rather than purely by demand."


Railway cybersecurity market to reach $14.13 billion by 2030 — report

Due in large part to escalating cyber attacks, the global railway cybersecurity market continues to grow and will grow at an annual rate of 9.9%, reaching $14.13 billion by the end of 2030, according to a report issued May 6 by Polaris Market Research & Consulting LLP. 

In 2021, Polaris valued the global railway cybersecurity market at $6.41 billion.

Growing urbanization, enhanced transportation services, and the increasing use of IoT, AI and automated technologies also have contributed (and will contribute) to the market's growth, Polaris officials said.

"As cyber censure becomes growingly modern, the rail industry is required to execute suitable dynamics instead of impressible safety practices," they said. "While deterrent cybersecurity technology has the potential of acknowledged signature-dependent menace, cyber security menace observation is needed to recognize more modern menaces and zero-day hacks for which there might be no studied signature that avoids these regulations."


Maersk Q1 results 'in line with expectations' amid Red Sea disruptions

A.P. Moller - Maersk reported first quarter financial results "in line with expectations," reflecting an earnings recovery compared with Q4 2023, Maersk officials said on May 2.

A "good performance in terminals and the combination of higher demand and the ongoing Red Sea crisis" drove the earnings increase, officials for the Copenhagen, Denmark-based ocean carrier said.

"Demand is trending towards the higher end of our market growth guidance and conditions in the Red Sea remain entrenched," Maersk CEO Vincent Clerc said. "This not only supported a recovery in the first quarter compared to the previous quarter, but also provide an improved outlook for the coming quarters, as we now expect these conditions to stay with us for most of the year."


CMA CGM to launch service linking Mexico with the Far East

CMA CGM plans to launch M2X-Mexico, a weekly service that directly connects reefers from Mexico and Central America's west coast with markets in China and Japan. 

M2X-Mexico includes direct service to Qingdao and Tianjin in North China.

The fixed-day weekly service features a fleet of eight dedicated ships.

The first departure is scheduled for May 11 from Busan, CMA CGM officials said.


European transport sector coalition calls for bigger EU transport budget

Last month, a coalition of more than 40 transportation associations called on the European Union to invest more of its budget in transport.

For rail freight, a renewed and expanded Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) is "of crucial importance to enable an increase of rail freight volumes by 50% by 2030 and doubled volumes by 2050," two goals set out in the EU’s Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy, the associations said.

The CEF, with a budget in the form of grants, has "proven its ability to select useful projects, attract further funding from member states, and disburse all its dedicated envelope in an efficient manner," the associations said.

“CEF is of crucial importance to facilitate cross-border traffic, a key point for rail freight as more than half of the trains cross at least one internal EU border," said Conor Feighan, secretary general of the European Rail Freight Association. "Extending CEF budget for key priorities such as ERTMS on-board deployment, while ensuring funding is available to small and medium railway undertakings, is fundamental for enabling modal shift.”