Duisport and CargoBeamer focus on innovative rail logistics – for climate targets and sustainable growth


A new boost for rail logistics: Duisburger Hafen AG, a trimodal logistics hub and Europe’s largest hinterland hub, and Leipzig-based rail technology company CargoBeamer AG have entered into a long-term cooperation for more growth in the combined transportation (rail/road) segment.

The objective of this collaboration is a massive increase in freight transport by rail. Innovative logistics products form the basis for this initiative. Three elements will be used to promote a climate-friendly transportation transformation: Automated handling for tractor trailers from road to rail, robotized cargo centers and the electromobility-based distribution of goods to industrial centers and urban metropolitan areas. This will lead to the emergence of a powerful European network out of North Rhine-Westphalia.

«Approximately three quarters of the freight on European roads is transported by tractor trailers, which have been unable to use rail for technical reasons. Duisburger Hafen AG, which is the European leader in trimodal goods handling (road/rail/ship), is expanding its services into this large market segment. Now we offer our customers efficient and excellent climate-compatible logistics chains from ramp to ramp on the basis of their existing vehicle fleet. That is another quantum leap for the type of logistics services that our customers have grown to (and can continue to) expect from our premium port. This effort combines the strong innovative power from the Rhine-Ruhr region with the sophisticated innovations out of Saxony,» says Erich Staake.

«The CargoBeamer technology was developed for exactly this market,» says Dr. Hans-Jürgen Weidemann, CEO and co-founder of CargoBeamer AG. «The transportation transformation in the freight segment can only be achieved with automation, parallelization and digitization, and by addressing the huge market for tarp, reefer, silo and mega trailers of all types with innovative rail logistics products. The CargoBeamer technology is based on the entirely automated and high-throughput loading and unloading of tractor trailers of all types. A CargoBeamer transshipment track can unload and load an entire train in 15 minutes, and within 20 minutes on ‘half-long’ tracks,» says Weidemann.

The network of innovative arrival and departure train stations for tractor trailers is just one pillar in the partners’ vision for the future. In addition to the handling centers and automated cargo centers, the duisport Group will also implement digital platforms for processing «LTL» («Less than truck») and «LCL» («Less than container») shipments for its freight forwarder and logistics customers.

This method is even supposed to work all the way to China, as the partners are relying on another innovation: the «CBoXX» — a high-volume rail container that can be loaded and unloaded by robots. The ubiquitous sea container, which dominates the market and the transcontinental movement of goods, is optimized for maritime vessels and not for automated continental rail logistics. The «CBoXX» will allow the environmentally-friendly but hitherto not very flexible freight trains to connect to modern cargo centers and offer competitive unit costs especially in the flexible market for less-than-full-load shipments.

duisport is already the leading hub for freight trains from China: Every week, around 35 trains from Chinese commercial centers reach one of Duisburg’s «logports» via the «New Silk Road».

With the «CBoXX» technology, trains will be able to transfer additional ocean freight volumes to the faster rail segment using automation, rapid track changes at the Russian and Chinese border and the optimum use of volume and weight on the rail cars. «The land route using rail is not only faster but also connects many urban metropolitan areas in China, Central Asia, Russia and Europe,» says Erich Staake.

As a first step, the partners will shortly start transport routes using the first CargoBeamer rail car park for all types of tractor trailers, with Duisburg as the starting point and destination. In this way, the already existing container terminals in Duisburg can also be utilized.

The CargoBeamer rail car technology is fully compatible with existing cranes and reach stackers: «Customers only have to bring their tractor trailers to logport and pick them up at the destination. It is just like traveling in person — you get on board and off you go,» says Weidemann. At present, the rail cars of the Leipzig-based company are traveling solely on one of the first Alpine-crossing routes to Milan/Domodossola.

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