Following the strategic decision early this summer to commit strongly to intermodal transport, Transuniverse Forwarding is developing new initiatives in this area. The rail service to Italy is now fully operational, a shortsea service to Hull has been launched and intermodal services to Hungary and Spain are ready to start. “To support the growth, we’re currently looking for an additional operations man or woman,” says operations manager Kevin Van Ongeval.
To set up the intermodal services, Transuniverse purchased thirty highcube palletwide 45′ containers from Unit 45 earlier this year. These have the same load capacity as trailers. In addition to twenty classic closed containers, ten containers with side curtains were also purchased. These box pallets account for the largest part of the 300,000-euro investment in the first phase of the intermodal expansion process. The total also includes investments in IT.
“All the containers were delivered over the summer and are now all in rotation,” explains Van Ongeval. “Following the successful completion of the first tests in August, we have been increasing traffic since September. The containers shuttle between the Shuttlewise rail terminals at the Kluizendok and Mortara, near Milan. They leave on Day A and arrive on Day C, and the cargo can be delivered to the customer the same day. For the time being, the cargo consists of full freights, but in the long run groupage shipments will also be sent. In that case, delivery to the customer will be on Day D.
By sea to Hull
Transuniverse has now set up a second intermodal link, this time by sea. Three times a week, a shortsea container ship from the shipping company I-Motion Shipping sails from the Kluizendok terminal in Ghent for Hull in the United Kingdom. Five to ten Transuniverse containers per ship cross the North Sea by this route every week.
Other destinations are also being examined. For example, two new services are about to start – both to Spain. One of them will transport containers by rail via Perpignann to Catalonia. The second intermodal link will run either by rail via Biarritz to the Basque country and Asturias, or by sea from Zeebrugge to Santander. “In the same way as the rail shuttle to Italy, the services will focus on full freights to begin with. No start date has been set so far. We’re still working out the practical details,” says Kevin Van Ongeval.
A subsequent intermodal link that we want to set up is one to Hungary. At present, Huckepack trailers are already doing a shuttle for Transuniverse between Wondelgem, Cologne (where they are put on the train) and Hungary, but the aim now is to use our own containers and send them directly by rail between Ghent and Hungary. “We’ve already completed an initial test. But we’re giving this move careful consideration. We’re organising a number of test runs in the coming weeks, so that we should be able to launch the service in early 2019,” are his concluding words.