The company Unicom Tranzit is actively involved in the promotion and use of the multimodal transport concept, having in this purpose already in operation and in the process of implementing a number of 5 major projects. But what is multimodal transport and what does it involve? And what is the difference between multimodal and intermodal?
Behind a simple word there is a whole network of contracts and collaborations between several transport operators, for international transport, or a single operator, for shorter, national or short- distance transports , transiting fewer countries, whose protocol of interoperability can allow the movement of a train with the locomotive of a single operator. Conceptually, multimodal transport means a single transport contract, which involves at least two modes of transport of the goods, thus ensuring transport from the point of departure directly to the destination, without involving other actions or contracts from the sender. In short, the consignor concludes a single contract with a carrier, who then has the responsibility of ensuring transport on their own or collaborating with other companies for routes where they do not have the opportunity to provide everything with their own logistics. Historically, the international multimodal transport of goods was made official on May 24, 1980 by the United Nations Office, the institution adopting the “United Nations Convention on the Multimodal International Transport of Goods”, Romania adhering to it. By implementing the convention, all the characteristics of multimodal transport , system documents and the responsibility of the parties involved were defined.
Intermodal transport generally refers to the same mode of transport from the consignor to the destination, the difference from multimodal transport being that in this case the consignor concludes a contract for each mode of transport or for the carrier carrying the goods in each country of transit. As an example, in the case of multimodal transport, the consignor concludes a contract with a company which then takes care of all that is necessary to transport the goods to the destination, having responsibility for all modes of transport and transit to the destination. In the case of intermodal transport, the consignor shall conclude separate contracts for transport from the terminal by train, then by truck, ship or other means of transport necessary for the goods to reach their destination.
At present at European level, the transport industry generates a quarter of greenhouse gas emissions, with the authorities aiming to reduce them by 90% by 2050. Moreover, studies show that emissions from rail transport are 3.5%. times lower per tonne/km than those generated by road transport. It is estimated that at least 30% of road freight transport will pass by multimodal rail by 2030, and the percentage would increase to 50% by 2050.
Following this global trend that encourages the passage of road transport in the railway area, Unicom Tranzit, one of the main railway companies with Romanian capital, is present on the entire railway network in the country, covering most urban and economic centers. However, the existence of the network is not enough for a railway operator to offer a range of services that offer maximum efficiency, and there are currently a number of challenges at national level.
Among the challenges of developing the multimodal transport system in our country, the most important is the development and use of existing multimodal terminals, 26 in number, belonging to the state operator CFR Marfă, but of which only 4 can be used on request at this time, the rest requiring a varied period of time and investment to be able to be used. Also, operators and private companies still have a number of 13 terminals currently active in our country. Moreover, through the General Transport Master Plan launched in 2014, the intention to modernize the existing terminals was launched, as well as the construction of new terminals in Giurgiu, Craiova and Bucharest, but so far no mentioned project has been completed.
Another challenge of multimodal transport is the development and electrification of the network in Romania, where there is a big difference compared to Hungary, an example being a freight train route Vienna – Curtici in 11 hours , with a commercial speed of 44 km/h, while an approximately equal distance, Curtici – Ploiești, is covered in 36 hours, with a commercial speed of only 16 km/h. In addition to the challenging quality of the road, there is also the lack of electrification on important sections, such as the Episcopia Bihor – Cluj, Valea lui Mihai – Dej, but also in the southern area on the route Videle – Giurgiu Nord.
Unicom Tranzit has several ongoing multimodal / intermodal projects, including 3 trains in the country’s territory and plans to introduce a new intermodal train but also to build a terminal in the Teiuș area.
Thus, Unicom Tranzit currently operates the following intermodal trains:
- Curtici – Ploiești intermodal train, with a frequency of 1 train/roundtrip per week, with a growth plan for two rountrip trains per week
- Curtici – Bucharest intermodal train, with a frequency of 1 train/roundtrip per week , with a development plan as a combined intermodal train for the transport of containers and road semi-trailers
- Constanța Port Ferryboat – Dornești intermodal train, with a frequency of 1 train/rountrip per week, occasionally introducing a second train/rountrip per week
As a project, Unicom Tranzit is preparing a combined intermodal train for the transport of containers and road semi-trailers on the route Milan – Curtici – Teiuș. Moreover, the company is developing its own intermodal terminal in Teiuș.
As existing terminals, Unicom Tranzit uses Unicom Group terminals, where services are provided for transhipment, transfusion and/or storage for various types of liquid and solid goods. In addition to the advantages of positioning in relation to the railways and railway borders, the terminals in Halmeu, Dornești and Galați also offer a combination of railways of different gauges, the European 1435 mm and the ex-Soviet 1520 mm, having the advantage of shunting rail cars on both types of gauge. Moreover, the terminals from Galați and Turnu Severin offer the possibility of transferring goods to maritime transport, on barges, these being located right on the Danube bank.
Unicom Tranzit offers a complete package of intermodal transport services, combining road, rail and maritime transport, the company’s standards being the integration of the network throughout Europe, thus offering efficient services in terms of quality and cost. The company offers integrated solutions for complete “door to door” transport packages, by combining access to the European railway network with the most important inland and maritime ports, European intermodal terminals or through its own terminals located in Romania.
Unicom terminal Teius represents only one of the future projects of Transit Unicom in the Intermodal field, with a strategic position in the center of Romania, with direct access to the pan-European network (Corridor IV) and national highways. An advantage of the terminal is the positioning on the railway corridor IV, which is in the process of modernization, which will increase the speed of freight trains up to 120 km/h, representing a fast route between Curtici and Constanța.
The 5 existing terminals owned by Unicom Grup are located in Halmeu, Dornești, Teiuș, Galați and Turnu Severin. All terminals are equipped with tanks for liquid and petroleum products, car ramps, warehouses, indoor/outdoor storage spaces, specialized equipment with qualified personnel for the necessary procedures, as well as cranes and conveyor belts for goods.
In Halmeu, in Satu Mare County, the terminal offers transhipment services (loading/unloading), storage and packaging of solid goods as well as transfer, storage and blending of liquid products. It also offers transfer/transhipment services between wide gauge, normal gauge rail cars and tank cars, as well as loading, unloading, handling, storage services for containerized goods. The terminal has tanks for oil and liquids up to 20,000 m3.
At the terminal in Galați, services are offered only for the transport of liquid goods, the terminal being equipped with tanks for storage of products, ramps and all facilities for transfer, storage and blending of liquid products, as well as for transfer between wide gauge, normal gauge rail cars, river vessels and tank cars. Moreover, the terminal offers fueling services for ships and storage of petroleum products. Here there are tanks with a total capacity of over 50,000 m3, which can store oil and other liquids.
At the terminal in Turnu Severin, Mehedinți County, Unicom Tranzit offers services for the transfer, storage and blending of liquid products, as well as transfer services between wide gauge wagons, normal gauge wagons, river vessels and cars. The terminal has tanks for various liquid and petroleum products, with a total capacity of over 9000 m3.
In Dornești, Suceava County, the company offers a wide range of transhipment services (loading/ unloading), storage and packaging of solid goods, as well as services for transfer, storage and blending of liquid products. Moreover, considering the positioning of the terminal, transfer/ transshipment services are offered between wide gauge wagons, normal gauge wagons and tank cars. The full range of services for containerized goods is also available. The terminal has several indoor and outdoor storage spaces, tower cranes, conveyor belts, oil and liquid tanks with a capacity of over 5000 m3.
Through its technical and human capacity to offer a wide range of services for multimodal / intermodal transport, from specialists in consulting and contracting services to those in handling and transferring goods, Unicom Tranzit demonstrates its strong position on the market of rail freight carriers offering a wide range of integrated services offering its customers door-to-door transport.