Literally back on track

Companies in Upper Styria are now counting on the power of domestic rail transport

From road to rail: In Upper Styria, the two exemplary companies Breitenfeld Edelstahl and CNC specialist Heldeco are successively shifting their delivery of goods from the road to the more sustainable option, the rails. During a visit from OEBB Rail Cargo Group (RCG) the first steps in this project have been made – including technology co-operations.

The foundation for tomorrow’s technology is being developed in the colossal industrial furnace of Breitenfeld Edelstahl. Around 130,000 tons of high-quality stainless steel are produced, and mainly exported, for the energy sector, toolmaking and engineering, as well as for transportation and the automotive industry. More than 90% of the products (from ingots to forged semi-finished products or bars) are exported to the international market, mainly to Italy and Germany. The majority is currently shipped by truck – and that’s supposed to change in the medium term: During the recent visit from OEBB Rail Cargo, the Muerztal-based company with 320 employees took first steps towards rail transport. “Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of our economy. We are pleased to hear about the commitment of the Upper-Styrian companies and the joint concept for shifting the transports from road to rail. RCG wants to support not only the Austrian SMEs and thus the Austrian economy, but also make a contribution to achieving climate targets”, says RCG Sales Director Thomas Kargl during the personal visit.

Strategic long-term project

The percentage of products that are currently delivered by rail is in the low single-digit range; in the medium term, however, the long-standing company intends to increase this number to over 20,000 tons per year – this equals about 20% compared to the status quo. For Breitenfeld Edelstahl CEO Gilbert Krenn the advantages are obvious: “As one of the largest employers in the region, we are aware of our responsibility for an intact environment. This is why we want to gradually increase the share of steel products transported by sustainable rail logistics solutions. We’re therefore very pleased to give the green light for this strategic long-term project together with Rail Cargo Group”. The delivery is already being fully carried out by Rail Cargo: More than 100,000 tons of scrap are transported to the Muerztal plant by rail each year.

High-end railroad logistics for Heldeco

Breitenfeld’s stainless steel technology partner Heldeco is moving towards sustainability step-by-step: Located in the border region between Turnau and Aflenz, the company with 60 employees is now also counting on an increased delivery by rail – not only because of the higher eco-friendliness and lower CO2 values compared to transport on the road: “High-precision end-to-end logistics solutions on rail are actually more reliable and faster. We want to make use of these advantages on the international market”, says Heldeco owner Helmut Dettenweitz. Around 90% of the components processed by Heldeco – e.g. for the hydroelectric, food and aircraft industry, shipbuilding and automotive – are directly or indirectly shipped abroad.

Regional consortium

As pioneers, Breitenfeld and Heldeco could soon find companies following the concept – even in the region: Kapfenberg-based investment casting specialist Ventana, 3D-printing pioneer RPD and Pengg Austria based in Thoerl, Germany, have evaluated rail logistics solutions during the visit from Rail Cargo. “For us it’s crucial to facilitate sustainable access to the international market for our export-oriented, regional companies – especially in challenging times like the ones we are experiencing at the moment. With this strategic meeting, we have focused on new, future-oriented opportunities,” says Hugo Sampl, Austrian Economic Chamber official and co-initiator of the meeting.

Styrian technology cooperations

Possible cooperations in the technological field were also evaluated: “We’re able to implement individual requirements of our customers flexibly and fast – our steal is already the basis for various applications in the global rail industry. We want to continue to contribute our know-how here – also in cooperation with regional companies in order to further intensify the domestic value chain,” explains Juergen Frank, Sales Director of Breitenfeld Edelstahl. Mr. Kargl adds: “We regard this exchange of ideas with Breitenfeld Edelstahl and Heldeco as quite useful, and in case of cooperations, RCG is happy to provide support as a reference provider of international standing.”

Rail Cargo Group: Freight transport division of the OEBB

The Rail Cargo Group is one of the leading rail logistics companies in Europe with 9,340 employees, branches throughout all of Europe and an annual turnover of around 2.3 billion EUR. Together with its strong partners, the Rail Cargo Group operates a comprehensive network of end-to-end logistics from Europe to Asia. It connects Europe’s highly populated areas and ports with prospering economic centers in Russia, Turkey and China. The operational parent company of Rail Cargo Group is Rail Cargo Austria AG.

OEBB: Today. For tomorrow. For us.

As a comprehensive mobility service provider, OEBB brings 477 million passengers and 105 million tons of goods to their destinations in an environmentally friendly way. Rail passengers travel especially ecofriendly, because 100% of the electric power comes from renewable energy sources. With a punctuality rate of 96%, the OEBB was among the most punctual railroad companies in Europe in 2019. With its investments in the railroad infrastructure of more than two billion euros annually, the OEBB is building the railroad system for our future. 41,904 bus and rail employees and an additional 2,000 apprentices make sure that around 1.3 million travelers reach their destination safely each day. OEBB is the backbone of our society and economy and is Austria’s largest climate protection company. Its operational parent company is OEBB Holding AG.

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