SBB Cargo

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Type State-owned company
Industry Rail Transport
Founded 1999
Headquarters Basel, Switzerland
Key people Nicoals Perrin, CEO
Revenue Increase CHF 922 million (2012)
Net income Increase CHF -51 million (2012)
Employees 3,327
Website SBB Cargo
Container train from SBB Cargo on its way to Italy.
Development of the Eem 923 hybrid locomotive
Freighttrain from SBB Cargo runs through the Alps.

SBB Cargo is a subsidiary of Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) specialising in railfreight and is operated as the Freight division. Swiss Federal Railways is a formerstate-owned and -controlled company that was transformed in 1999 into a joint-stock company under special legislation following the first Swiss railway reform and divided up into three independent divisions: Passenger, Freight and Infrastructure. The headquarters of Swiss Federal Railways SBB Cargo AG, the Freight division's official designation, are in Basel. A relocation to Olten is planned in autumn 2014. reight division. Swiss Federal Railways is a formerstate-owned and -controlled company that was transformed in 1999 into a joint-stock company under special legislationreight division. Swiss Federal Railways is a formerstate-owned and -controlled company that was transformed in 1999 into a joint-stock company under special legislation In 2012, SBB Cargo had 3,327 employees and achieved consolidated sales of CHF 922 million.[1] In Switzerland, SBB Cargo is the market leader in rail freight, transporting 175,000 tons of goods every day. This corresponds to the weight of 425 fully loaded jumbo jets.

The company is headed by Nicolas Perrin. SBB Cargo is mandated by its owner, the Swiss Confederation, to contribute to the modal shift from road to rail. In the "Cargo Switzerland" business area, it is required – as system leader – to operate a wagonload freight network both within Switzerland and on the import/export routes. This network must be aligned to the needs of Swiss business and cover its owncosts. The "Cargo International" business area focuses on providing competitive and profitable traction services for intermodal and block trains on the main north–south transit corridor.[2]

SBB Cargo is an active member of the Xrail alliance, which was founded by seven European freight railways in February 2010 with the aim of making international wagonload rail transport more customer-friendly and efficient.

Strategic direction[edit]

Railfreight is a major topic of debate in the Swiss political arena at present. In 2011, Parliament passed a motion ordering the government to submit a master plan for the future of rail freight across the country. The Federal Council did this in mid-April 2013. The two houses of the Federal Parliament are expected to discuss the draft in 2014. Because are ferendum is still possible, the new legislative package will only enter into force in 2015/2016 at the earliest and include a restructuring of railfreight's general operating conditions. At the same time, SBB Cargo is pursuing a three-pronged strategy:

1. The subsidiary SBB Cargo International, jointly founded at the beginning of 2011 together with the intermodal transport operator HUPAC, operates shuttle trains on the north–south transit routes.

2. In wagonload freight transport, the aim is to lower the structural costs and slim down the network of service points.

3. SBB Cargo's future intermodal freight offerings will include scheduled services connecting Switzerland's major cities.

SBB Cargo Switzerland[edit]

To keep wagonload freight in Switzerland profitable and sustainable, an extensive and broad-based process was launched involving all the affected clients and cantons to develop solutions to restructure poorly utilised service points. Overall, SBB Cargo looked into restructuring 155 very poorly utilised service points. On average, less than one wagon a day is processed at these locations. Of the very poorly utilised points, 128 are no longer in operation since the timetable change in December 2012. The current services of SBB Cargo and the other railways in Switzerland regularly run to 374 service points for wagonload freight. Despite this, 98 percent of the existing freight volume will continue to be carried by rail.

In Switzerland, freight traffic is handled at the three large marshalling yards Basel-Muttenz, Zurich-Limmattal and Lausanne-Triage. These marshalling yards are operated by SBB Infrastructure. The Gotthard line is SBB Cargo's main transit route. The second transalpine axis through the Lötschberg and the Simplon tunnel is used primarily by competitor BLS Cargo but also by SBB Cargo trains.

In 2012, SBB Cargo reported a 1.7 percent drop infreight traffic to 12,132 million net tonne-kilometres. The economic recession in Europe plus the reduction in industrial capacity in Switzerland, particularly in the paper and metal industry, have been cited as the reasons for this. This situation was compounded by the closure of the Gotthard mountainroute on three occasions due to rockslides near Gurtnellen.[3]

SBB Cargo Germany[edit]

SBB Cargo Deutschland GmbH, headquartered in Duisburg (Germany) and founded in 2002, is a wholly owned subsidiary of SBB Cargo International. As a registered railway company for freight services, it plans, schedules and operates block trains in Germany to and from Duisburg, Rheinhausen, Siegen, Cologne, Aachen, Ludwigshafen/Mannheim, Karlsruhe, Stuttgart, Freiburg im Breisgau, Singen, Lübeck, Bremerhaven/Bremen, Hamburg, Kehl, Gelsenkirchen, Ingolstadt, Neuss, Gießen/Mainzlar and Weil am Rhein, while rail-to-road platforms in Germany are operated in Bremen, Duisburg, Karlsruhe, Worms and Weil am Rhein.

SBB Cargo Deutschland has been a recognized training organization since October 30, 2007.

SBB Cargo Italy[edit]

SBB Cargo Italia was founded in 2003 and has its operational base in Gallarate. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of SBB Cargo International, and plans, schedules and operates freight trains in Italy. It also provides training for locomotive drivers. The destinations/departure points for wagon groups or block trains in Italy are Gallarate, Novara, Milano, Melzo, Trecate, Turin-Orbassano, Fossano, Poggio Rusco and Sant'Ilario. Centres for rail-to-road transshipment in Italy are operated in Desio and Turin.

ChemOil Logistics AG[edit]

ChemOil Logistics AG was founded in 1999 as a subsidiary of SBB Cargo. The company is part of a European logistics network and chiefly provides services for customers in the chemical and petroleum sectors. ChemOil's core competency is in the organisation and execution of door-to-door freight forwarding using all available modes of transport.[4] In addition ChemOil provides its customers with a wide range of complementary services on request, such as managing wagon fleets, analysing procedures and processes and advising on how to optimise the supply chain.

SBB CFF FFS Cargo, Re 42 028-8, ChemOil Logistics AG.JPG

Since 2011, the company's ChemLink product has connected key chemicals centres along the north–south corridor using its own scheduled service for consignment handling.


SBB Cargo divides its services into the following categories: door-to-door logistics concepts with wagonloads (Cargo Rail and Cargo Express products), block trains (Cargo Train product) and intermodal transport (traction services for intermodal shuttle trains of all the main operators, e.g. Hupac, ERS, ICF, IFB and T.R.W.). Standard products as well as individual customer solutions are offered. The "Rail & Transfer" service is designed for forwarders and companies who have their own truck dispatching facilities. "Swiss Split" is the connection system for international intermodal freight services in Switzerland.

SBB Cargo provides the daily feeder service and local distribution of intermodal load units – for example containers and interchangeable containers – between the sidings of Swiss businesses and the country's international shuttle terminals. Since September 2011 SBB Cargo offers a rail shuttle between the Basel container terminal and Chavornay for transporting overseas containers. By expanding intermodal transport in Switzerland, SBB Cargo is adding to its existing business in wagonload and transit freight. The concept envisages scheduled trains connecting the main centres in Switzerland. Shuttle trains will go back and forth according to a fixed timetable. The first pilot train has been operating on a fixed timetable twice a day between Dietikon near Zurich and Renens near Lausanne since the beginning of 2012.[5] Since September 2012, SBB Cargo has also been running a scheduled train with refrigerated containers for Migros between Neuendorf (Canton Solothurn) and Gossau (Canton St. Gallen).[6] In June 2013 the north–south shuttle between Dietikon and Cadenazzo started running on workdays, connecting the economic centre of Zurich with the Ticino region, with an extension to Lugano Vedeggio.

Two new terminals for trains up to 750 m long are planned to handle the growing number of containers in the import/export trade. Gateway Limmattal, which reached an important milestone with the planning permission application in 2012, will provide a direct connection to the wagonload freight system for the distribution of containers to their final destinations throughout Switzerland. The Basel North terminal right next to the Kleinhüningen Rhine port has a trimodal design, connecting boats, trains and trucks.

SBB Cargo works together with the international climate protection organisation Myclimate to offer its customers a completely climate-neutral transport service. The inevitable CO2 emissions of a shipment by train are neutralised by climate protection measures elsewhere. Unlike other similar schemes, the SBB Cargo concept takes all environmentally harmful emissions and the entire life cycle of the consignment into account when calculating the environmental impact. Since the beginning of 2009 the Swiss railfreight operator has also been providing its customers with individual emission reports. The emissions comparison for all consignments forwarded by SBB Cargo can easily be integrated into operational environmental management systems and presented in environmental audits. The "Prix eco" was awarded in 2011 for those customers who achieved the greatest reduction in harmful greenhouse gas emissions through the use of railfreight services.

From the 2013/2014 timetable change onwards, SBB Cargo will transport a significant portion of DB Schenker Rail's transit services through Switzerland on their behalf. Thanks to these additional operational and traction services, Swiss rail freight can make optimum use of its existing production capacities and resources. The allocation to SBB Cargo of this freight traffic previously handled by BLS Cargo, a subsidiary of DB Schenker Rail Switzerland, attracted considerable media attention.[7]

Rolling stock[edit]

In 2012, SBB Cargo had 7,869 freight wagons in service (of which 7,072 were low-noise vehicles). SBB Cargo purchased 50 Re 482 dual-voltage freight locomotives for its Switzerland-Germany services, 15 of which can also be operated in Austria. SBB Cargo uses dual-voltage locomotives for its Switzerland-Italy services: 21 Re 484 locomotives and 12 Re 474 locomotives. In total, 544 traction vehicles were in service during 2012. For its freight services in Switzerland and Germany, SBB Cargo uses 45 Am 843 diesel shunters with environment-friendly soot particle filters. These locomotives help improve the production efficiency of heavy shunting operations and are equipped with radio remote-control systems. The Biel works uses an additional 45 modernised Tm IV shunting tractors. After the refit, the shunting tractors will be classified as type Tm 232.


In summer 2010, SBB Cargo ordered 30 new two-axle hybrid locomotives (type Eem 923 Hybrid) from Stadler Winterthur AG to replace the Bm 4/4 shunting locomotives and various three-axle shunting locomotives used for light freight duties for wagonload traffic, since the old locomotives no longer met current requirements in terms of age, cost-effectiveness and performance. The newly developed model is based on the Ee 922 shunting locomotive which SB already uses for shunting duties in its Passenger division. The hybrid version for SBB Cargo has an electric motor and an auxiliary diesel engine for use on non-electrified sidings. The Eem 923 hybrid has a maximum speed of 120 km/h. More than half of the locomotives ordered had been delivered and put into operation in July 2013.

SBB AM 843-2.JPG

Key figures[edit]

In 2012, SBB Cargo earned operating revenues of CHF 922 million and carried a traffic volume of 12,132 billion net tonne-kilometres. The reporting year closed with a loss of CHF 51 million. In the previous year, the deficit amounted to CHF 46 million. Traffic revenues dropped from CHF 840 million in 2011 to CHF 822 million.[8]

Investment in subsidiaries[edit]

In addition to its 75% share in SBB Cargo International, SBB Cargo holds the entire share capital of ChemOil Logistics AG in Basel (transportation of chemicals and petroleum products) and minority interests in RAlpin AG, Berne (30%), Hupac SA, Chiasso (23.85%) and Termini SA, Chiasso (20%).

Source: SBB Cargo Annual Report 2012 (PDF; 6 MB)


External links[edit]