With Noah’s Train, Rail Freight Forward – a coalition of Europe’s leading railway companies – aims to turn the spotlight on climate-friendly rail freight transport. The train, which was created by renowned street artists, is the longest mobile work of art in the world, and it will be making a stop at the port of Rotterdam in October. “Graffiti and the railways used to be at odds with each other. Now we’ve joined forces to raise awareness about modern and sustainable freight transport solutions and to make a real contribution to climate protection and social responsibility.”
Rail freight transport produces up to 9 times less CO2 than road haulage. The Rail Freight Forward coalition’s goal is to increase the railway’s share in freight transport from its current level of 18% to 30% by 2030. “This is an absolute necessity,” says Michael Winter, who is one of the creative minds behind the initiative and Head of Marketing and Communication at Rail Cargo Austria, one of the 5 founding members of Rail Freight Forward. “We already know that freight transport in Europe is expected to see rapid growth in the years ahead. An extra 1 million trucks will be required to handle these increased volumes over the next decade. Just imagine it – a million trucks backed up as far as the eye can see. And that on Europe’s already heavily congested roads. Rail Freight Forward is putting the spotlight on the climate-friendly railways, both in the industrial sector and in the public consciousness, because both of these groups are equally affected. “As a coalition, we are working ceaselessly to make rail freight transport even more modern, multimodal and, above all, more attractive. This is the only way we can generate economic growth and at the same time make a significant contribution to reaching the climate goals we have set ourselves.”
Need for new connections
Matthijs van Doorn, Director of Logistics at the Port of Rotterdam Authority, applauds the coalition’s initiative. “We need new connections with the hinterland to facilitate the strong growth of the container sector in the port of Rotterdam. We can see an increase in road transport, and according to prognoses, even more trucks will be added in the future. If we don’t do something, the Netherlands will grind to a halt. We need an alternative – and rail transport has the answer. Rail transport produces relatively few pollutants, consumes less energy and leads to fewer accidents. Fluctuating water levels are unpredictable, which puts pressure on freight transport via inland shipping. This makes rail transport is a very viable alternative. The Port of Rotterdam is a key logistics hub that connects the continent with the rest of the world – and we need to guarantee optimal connections at all times.”
Michael Winter raises further points in the road versus rail debate that highlight the importance of the modal shift: “Rail freight transport costs society around twelve times less than road haulage. A consistent shift from road to rail transport leads to 85 times fewer fatalities and injuries on the roads. What is more, over 40,000 air-pollution related premature deaths could be avoided by reinforcing rail freight transport.” With the aim of reaching both industry and the general public with this message, Rail Freight Forward has been touring Europe with Noah’s Train for almost a year now.