Today, caring for our planet simply is a must. From an environmental point of view, rail freight is an excellent transport option compared to both air freight and the combination of sea and air. The major environmental advantage of rail freight is the reduction of exhaust emissions. When comparing the CO2 emissions of the different transport modes, it is clear that rail freight is the superior winner.
Looking at the distance between China and Northern Europe, air freight consumes 139 tons CO2. The combination of sea and air consumes about 77 tons CO2. Rail freight, however, consumes only five tons CO2. In comparison, it is a drop in the ocean, meaning rail is the most eco-friendly choice if sea freight takes too long.
Compared to ocean freight, rail freight is a fast and highly reliable transport mode with shorter lead times. Let us once again have a look at the distance between China and Northern Europe.
One of the biggest challenges for companies with production in China is the long lead times to Europe when shipping by sea. Ocean transports from China to northern Europe usually take about six to seven weeks. With rail freight, it is possible to more or less cut transport times in half, which significantly reduces the lead time. This is especially beneficial to companies operating in the fast-moving consumer goods industry with high demands on short delivery times. Shorter lead times also make it is easier to forecast business operations and costs and they can have a positive impact on capital binding. (I will cover that further down in this blog post.)
Rail freight is also a very punctual mode of transport. Unlike road freight and sea freight that is subjected to congestion and bad weather condition, there is little that can obstruct the path of a rail, which reduces the risk of sudden delays.