SBB Cargo and Hupac found SBB Cargo International.

SBB Cargo and the intermodal operator Hupac are jointly founding an independent, neutral company to handle transalpine transit freight between Germany and Italy. It is hoped that a clockface production system and lean structures will make the new company the cost leader on the north-south corridor.

As of the beginning of 2011, SBB Cargo and Hupac will be founding a new train operating company that will focus on block and intermodal trains on the European north-south corridor between Germany and Italy. In taking this step, the Board of Directors of SBB has affirmed the decision it took in February on the strategic realignment of SBB Cargo.

The shareholders in the new company will be SBB Cargo (75%) and Hupac (25%), the leading intermodal freight operator on the north-south corridor. It is possible that further partners will also join. The new company will intensify the existing decades-long partnership between the two companies. The aim is to jointly establish and develop a strong, neutral traction company that is close to its market. This move also seeks too achieve cost leadership in the intermodal segment by optimising resources on selected routes and halving structural costs. Since the company will be Swiss, quality will be a major priority.  

The new company’s customers will primarily comprise intermodal operators, who will account for about 80% of the planned total sales of CHF 300 million. Although Hupac will itself be the company’s largest single customer, the range of services is clearly geared to other large customers. Apart from operators, these include railfreight and other railway companies and individual large-volume shippers. “The crucial thing is to be able to offer the market traction services between Germany and Italy as an independent, neutral train operating company. This is in the interest of both shareholders", explains Nicolas Perrin, Head of SBB Cargo.

Several railfreight operators dominate the north-south rail corridor, and a number of other railway companies now operate their own freight trains on the corridor in addition to SBB Cargo. The intense competition is creating heavy price pressure and slender margins for traction operators. “The step forward that has now been adopted will make it possible for us to continue to operate on the central European freight axis as a Swiss company. Looking ahead to the opening of the Gotthard base tunnel, Switzerland’s two strongest players in the sector need to pool their strengths. Only by doing so will we have a chance of actively counteracting the pressure being exerted by foreign operators with a solution of our own”, says Hans-Jörg Bertschi, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Hupac.  

Neutral traction services on the same terms for all customers

Base on the north-south corridor

The spin-off of international operations into the new company will result in 157 redundancies at SBB Cargo over the next two years. These will be implemented in a socially responsible manner. SBB will offer alternatives for retraining within the rest of the company and can provide new employment opportunities thanks to growth in other areas. The best possible use will be made of all available solutions throughout the Group employment market, including offers to work in other SBB divisions, exploiting staff turnover, early retirement opportunities and, where necessary, outplacement. No staff who are employed under the collective employment contract will be made redundant.

The new company will probably be based in the Basel-Olten-Lucerne area. A search for suitable office premises is in progress. The existing depots on the north-south corridor in Switzerland will be retained, but – in a departure from current practice – drivers will be deployed to a greater extent within the same country. Basel will become the central hub of the Gotthard and Lötschberg corridor production concept. The number of drivers at SBB Cargo’s depots in Ticino and central Switzerland will remain at around its present level. In Germany, the staff currently based in Offenburg will be transferred to Mannheim in the medium term. The other sites in Germany and Italy will be retained for the time being. The subsidiaries currently responsible for production in Germany and Italy will be integrated into the new company. Chemoil, the subsidiary specialising in the transport of petroleum and chemical products, will remain an affiliate of SBB Cargo AG.

Sustainable business success with new production system

Full range of services from SBB Cargo in Switzerland

SBB Cargo intends to use its new “Rail & Transship” product to expand its position in intermodal transport in its domestic market. Looking to the long term, SBB Cargo is examining innovative solutions for comparatively short distances within Switzerland. Traffic from the North Sea ports will play a major role in import and export activities, and the construction of the planned new Limmattal Gateway terminal in Dietikon will be essential in securing this traffic.

Standardisation and alignment with customer requirements

Standardisation will enable the company to introduce uniform software, optimise processes and improve capacity management. SBB Cargo will only be able to cover the costs of operating its domestic network if it succeeds in scaling all its resources correctly and using their capacity more efficiently. Simultaneously, structural costs for the Swiss part of SBB Cargo's activities will have to be reduced to normal industry levels in the long term. SBB Cargo in Switzerland will make the transition to a process-driven organisation at the same time as its international business is spun off into a separate company. The necessary organisational changes will take place in the second half of 2010.

Phased implementation

- Presentation from the press conference (PDF, german)

Further content