A Train Is Arriving at Platform One…

A Train Is Arriving at Platform One…

ŠKODA World

Did you see a train carrying the new ŠKODA models? If so, it was one that left a factory in Kvasiny or Mlada Boleslav. There you can find tens of kilometres of tracks with crossings, points, and locomotives. Let’s have a look at them.

3. 9. 2019

Jiří Cee, Head of Logistics, welcomes us at his office. Every day, dozens of carriages loaded with new cars ready to be exported to their new homes ride below his windows. Other carriages are filled with containers carrying materials for the Russian plants. The roofed carriages contain dismantled cars, destined for the Ukraine and Kazakhstan, where they will be assembled.

Two hundred carriages daily, over thirty thousand carriages every month

When it comes to car plant logistics, railway transportation is of the utmost importance. 56% of the Czech daily production is exported by train. There are eight trains dispatched from Mlada Boleslav and another six from the Kvasiny plant. That means 200 carriages loaded with finished, completely assembled vehicles leave every day. Each year, there are over 350,000 cars exported in more than 34,000 carriages, and that is just from Mlada Boleslav. “If we were to attach all the train units in one row, their length would cover over 900 km, which equals the distance between Mlada Boleslav and Paris,” says Jiří Cee.

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Jiří Cee
Head of Logistics at ŠKODA

The site is filled with constant buzz. At the transshipment rail point, the railway siding workers receive empty carriages from the haulage contractors. Later on, they send the carriages to expedition points and once loaded, the workers assemble a train unit ready to be dispatched from the plant. The railway siding is about 20 km long with seven railway crossings, 63 points and two modern EffiShunter locomotives. Each of them weighs about 72 tons and transports even the heaviest units of up to 1,400 tons of weight.

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To the port and then on to Shanghai

The beautiful, grey and green one-year old locomotives are powered by engines with catalytic convertors which meet all of the strict Stage III.b. emission regulations. The fuel consumed is one half of the fuel consumed by the previously locomotives. One proof that these new locomotives are environment-friendly is the reduced CO2 production. Another proof is the fact that the previously locomotives used 400 litres of oil, while the new ones are good with just 73 litres.

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Both locomotives operate on seven expedition spots in the Mlada Boleslav plant. Completed cars are loaded on five tracks, while the remaining two are designated for dismantled cars to be assembled in foreign plants. Each of the carriages can hold eight to twelve vehicles, depending on the length of the carriage and the car model. Each car is secured with four blocks per one axle, so there’s no chance that it can it fall off the carriage.

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Trains leave in four different directions. Trainspotting movie fans would definitely have something to watch. Each day, one train is dispatched to an importer’s warehouse in Poland. Seven trains leave to a yard in nearby Nymburk, where they are attached to carriages from the Kvasiny plant. Eighty percent of train units continue to ports in the north of Germany, where they are loaded on overseas ships with final destinations such as Mumbai, Shanghai, or Oran (Algeria). A smaller portion of the vehicles are exported to warehouses in Germany. One tenth of the trains are sent to a port in Slovenian Koper for a later transshipment to Greece and Middle East countries. The last ten percent of the carriages finish their journey in Italy.

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Just like at the railway station

The railway is in no case a thing of the past. In fact, many of the processes are executed using modern technology. The electronics allow the train dispatchers to watch the route setting and individual tracks occupancy. The locomotives are remotely monitored, so that the dispatchers can watch the mileage, operating hours, utilisation rate, consumption, and malfunctions.

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The railway siding in ŠKODA works just like any other freight depot. All the railway rules and norms must be followed. The operation is planned in full detail every route has a fixed time schedule. The railway siding dispatcher is in direct contact with the national railway dispatcher and together they manage everything, constantly checking the situation on tracks. The maximum speed on the railway siding is 30 kilometres per hour.

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The future of railway shipping

The railway workers have to be educated in a field corresponding with their position. While the train dispatchers and the engine drivers have secondary education, the shunters have an apprenticeship certificate. Many of them are really passionate about their job, and the railway is part of their free time as well, be it the actual one, or a miniature version. “No matter if it’s raining, foggy or freezing, our employees have to keep the railway siding in perfect order so that there are no disruptions on the continuity of logistics in the plant,” explains Jiří Cee.

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In the future, railway expeditions will be even more common, as it’s more ecological than road expedition. Currently, however, there are still some limiting circumstances. There are not enough special carriages on the market, not enough locomotives, and the capacity of the railway routes is limited. Furthermore, there are not many engine drivers and lorries are still a cheaper way of freight transportation. But with some time, trains will no doubt become the more attractive option.

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