"How to ensure competitiveness of rail freight transport?"

Lucerne, 19.06.2017

General Assembly Meeting of Hupac Ltd



Hans-Jörg Bertschi

President of the Board of Directors of Hupac Ltd



Ladies and gentlemen, dear friends of our company


Hupac has reached its fiftieth anniversary – so you might think that we can rest on our laurels. Hupac has withstood the economic crisis and last year, we posted growth at a pace that has not been seen in a very long time. The company has managed its business well, and it can report pleasing profit for the year. Hupac is strengthening its position in traditional markets while successfully penetrating new market segments: Russia, China, Company Shuttle and maritime hinterland transport.


The overall conditions also inspire confidence. The opening of the Gotthard Base Tunnel at the end of 2016 and the commissioning of the four-meter corridor in 2020 will finally allow Hupac's trains to benefit from the advantages of a high-performance flat railway.


Taking the global perspective, however, we must consider ways of ensuring that rail goods transport retains its competitive edge in the long term. While the rail system's performance continues to be restricted by national borders – as regards infrastructure and due to operational, administrative and cultural factors – transport of goods by road is advancing by leaps and bounds. IT-assisted journey optimisation, intelligent fleet management, low-consumption engines, gigaliners and driverless transport: these are just a few highlights of the breathtaking developments on the roads.


But what about the railways? There are many reasons why innovations in the rail world are moving at snail's pace. The high degree of technical complexity. Long innovation cycles. 'Nation-state' corporate cultures. But if rail goods transport is to have a future, a new mindset is called for in the rail system – and the pace of progress has to change. Cutting costs, boosting productivity and exploiting the opportunities of digitalisation: every day, we see how progress is being made towards these goals on the roads, and the railways are perfectly able to follow suit. Indeed, they have to.


Many players have recognised this – and that gives us confidence. Together with our rail partners, the infrastructure operators and transport policy decision-makers, we are aiming for a complete package of measures that will make it possible to cut costs and increase the productivity of international freight trains. A couple of examples:

  • Improved coordination of international schedules can cut train journey times and boost the productivity of the resources deployed – locomotives, drivers, and rail wagons.
  • Integration of terminals into the scheduling concept offers potential for greater efficiency.
  • Adherence to schedules will reduce the enormous costs caused by delays.
  • Integrated and open data exchange between all partners will release potential for productivity.


Our history shows that none of this is wishful thinking. Hupac has always had the knack of positioning the requirements of road transport in rail traffic, and of implementing them over the long term in the interests of all parties concerned.


I am convinced that intermodal transport is the transport of the future over longer distances. In terms of efficiency and sustainability, it is significantly superior to both pure road transport and conventional rail transport. The decisive factor will be our success in overcoming the many barriers in the railway world, which continues to be influenced by 'nation-state' thinking.


Hupac is consistently preparing for this future. Our fleet of wagons is being expanded in keeping with demand. The terminal projects at Basel, Warsaw-Brwinów, Piacenza, Milan and Brescia are moving ahead. The digital strategy has been drafted and is being implemented in a host of projects.


However, our employees and management staff are the critical factors in our success. Through their daily dedication to the search for innovative, sustainable and safe logistics solutions and the expansion of our intermodal network, they are paving the way for Hupac's next fifty years.


On behalf of the Board of Directors, I would like to thank you for your trust, and I look forward to continuing our shared journey into the future.