Wagons are an expensive asset driving operational expenses for rail cargo operators, and keeping idle wagons at customer tracks is inefficient. In addition, shippers aim to optimise their production and supply chain costs and often ask just-in-time delivery from the rail cargo operators. Being able to service these short-term requests, is an important competitive differentiator.
Even if a rail operator services the customer well with empty wagons, the rail operator has to manage the imbalances in traffic. After the loaded wagons have been transported to the destination and emptied, the wagon is released back to the rail cargo operators’ custody. The imbalances created by transporting fully loaded wagons from production plants and emptying those at harbours, transport hubs or warehouses, is managed by the rail operator. Transporting empty wagons back to depots or customer tracks and having the wagons waiting idle for a customer to load the wagon is a significant cost that in some cases can amount to 4%-10% of a rail operator’s operational expenses.