50 years of Kombiverkehr
the partnership was founded on the initiative of the then transport minister, Georg Leber. It was set up
in Frankfurt am Main by the associations for long-distance freight transport, forwarding operators and
the furniture transport industry as well as Deutsche Bundesbahn and 56 road hauliers and vehicle
forwarders. Even then the goal was to shift long-distance freight traffic from road to rail. Transport
services commenced a short time later on 1 July 1969, when the first truck consignment was handled
in the Fankfurt am Main (Ost) goods station. Today the company operates a European network with
more than 770 direct and shuttle trains each week that enables forwarders and logistics companies to
send their shipments safely, efficiently and economically by environmentally-friendly rail. With transfer
options from rail to rail as well as multiple-day departures at more than 230 important national and
international terminals, Kombiverkehr KG offers the densest transport network in Europe with the
highest frequency of services. The company transports well over 900,000 truck consignments
annually and has holdings in 26 companies at home and abroad.
Standards set in intermodal transport
At the end of the 1960s, a road-rail Combined Transport system was the logical answer to the
challenges of an economy geared towards modern bulk freight transport. The company's founders
stepped into a new age of transport in 1969 with an innovative concept. Our company stood out for its
pioneering work from the start. With countless innovations in the areas of sales, operations, IT and
technology, our employees have lost none of this pioneering spirit over the last five decades. They
have repeatedly set new standards that have added value to the intermodal transport sector in
Germany and Europe and made it into a success story:
1964 to 1969 Piggyback Transport Consortium
While transport minister Leber is working on his recovery programme for the German transport
system, the Federation of German Long-Distance Freight Transport (BDF) has already had what it
calls the “Piggyback Transport Consortium” since 1964. From the mid-1960s it focuses mainly on
loading semitrailers onto rail. As Leber’s ideas are discussed in political working groups, from 1967
this consortium is also consulted with the aim of preparing the groundwork for the establishment of a company promoting combined road-rail transport. The members flesh out the initial ideas in a number of meetings to breathe life into the company that is to be set up. Among their achievements is the first draft of the articles of association for the Kombiverkehr partnership that will be formed subsequently. They also discuss possible new routes for the Combined Transport and the relevant timetabling.
1967 The Leber Plan
The “Leber Plan” is the informal name given to the transport policy programme for the Federal
Republic of Germany introduced on 22 September 1967 by the then German transport minister,
Georg Leber (SPD). It is still known today as the “Program for Restructuring German Transport 1968 to 1972”.
In light of the constant increase in pressure on the nation’s roads (the number of cars on the road
network had risen from 4 million in 1960 to 10.3 million at the end of 1966) alongside a decline in rail traffic on the German railway system, Leber’s plan is to dampen the growth in road traffic while making greater use of the underutilised capacities of the rail network. In the nine months between taking office and publishing the policy programme, Leber first establishes the state of Germany’s
transport system, then develops possible solutions and discusses them in detail in working groups.
The aim is for free competition between the modes of transport to produce a division of
responsibilities that reflects the natural conditions and capabilities of the individual modes of transport.
Interaction between the individual modes of transport within Combined Transport is to be ensured.
Another part of the policy imposes a heavy tax on road haulage by truck, known as the “Leber
pfennig” because 1 pfennig is charged per metric ton per kilometre. The policy also directs subsidies towards the railway and for Combined Transport as well, in particular the construction of 50 transshipment facilities. During this period 250 million German marks a year are spent on promoting rail transport. The programme is officially announced in October 1967.
A new company has to be established in order to organise the interaction of road and rail. Leber
instructs the Federation of German Long-Distance Freight Transport (BDF), the Federation for
Forwarding and Warehousing (BSL), the German Federal Railway (BD) and staff at his ministry to
The “Leber Plan” is thus the primary trigger for the establishment of Kombiverkehr as a company.
1968 Establishment of Kombiverkehr GmbH
Kombiverkehr GmbH is founded in Frankfurt am Main on 24 September 1968. The main backers are the two associations, the Federation of German Long-Distance Freight Transport (BDF), based in Frankfurt am Main, and the Federation for Forwarding and Warehousing (BSL), based in Bonn. The managing directors appointed for the company by the association presidents are Hans Wenger, a lawyer, and Günter Malkowsky, a business administrator. The company’s co-founders are Deutsche Bundesbahn, the state-run railway operator; Bundes-Zentralgenossenschaft Strassenverkehr, the federal road transport association; Arbeitsgemeinschaft Möbeltransport, the furniture transport working group; and Güterkraftverkehrsunternehmer der Bundesbahn, an association of haulage operators in the Bundesbahn. The registered share capital of the limited company is one hundred thousand German marks.
At the time, however, the presidents of the federations do not hold out much prospect of the
establishment of such a company bringing any real success. The Bundesbahn also fears
To convince both the railway and the forwarding and transport industries of the merits of Combined
Transport, however, stimulate their lasting interest in the successful implementation of Leber’s idea of shifting to rail and keep both with Kombiverkehr in the long term, a partnership is to be founded alongside the limited company. The aim is to have partners in the initial phase especially who offer technical expertise both on the rail side and on the road side, and to bring them into the activities of the new enterprise.
1969 Establishment of Kombiverkehr KG
On 11 February 1969 the associations for the long-distance freight transport, haulage and furniture
transport industries join the Bundesbahn and 56 road transport operators and vehicle forwarders in
the large meeting hall of Road Transport House in Frankfurt am Main to form the partnership
Kombiverkehr Kommanditgesellschaft. The founding managing directors are Hans Wenger of the
Federal Freight Transport Association and Günter Malkowsky of the Federal Forwarding and Logistics Association. The purpose of the company is to organise and execute the transport of trucks and swap bodies by rail for their limited partners, without detriment to the latter’s role as freight operators. The companies present seal their accession to the partnership by appending their signature and depositing their limited partner contribution of 5,000 German marks.
Excerpt from the German transport newspaper of 13 February 1969:
“... Interest was greater than expected. Limited partners in the making and support staff thronged the room, seats were at a premium, the mood and atmosphere were hopeful and optimistic, sometimes even decidedly harmonious. Observers would have taken pleasure at the scene that unfolded, as transport operators and vehicle forwarders of all shapes and sizes pressed towards the till in the truest sense of the word. Everyone wanted to get rid of their money as quickly as possible, usually symbolically by their signature. The really eager among them, however, had brought their signed cheques along with them ...”
1969 First train loaded at Frankfurt Ost
Kombiverkehr KG begins operations on the evening of 1 July 1969. At Frankfurt am Main (Ost) freight station, nine semitrailers of partner transport companies are loaded onto low-loader wagons in the presence of the management team as well as representatives of the Bundesbahn. The officers responsible for rail transport had only just put their signatures to the carriage contract at the station
The semitrailers, which are pulled onto the wagons using the tractor before being locked in position manually with trailer jacks, are destined for the Hamburg region. The Frankfurt - Hamburg v.v. route is part of line 2, which connects Mannheim and Frankfurt in the centre of Germany with Hanover, Bremen and Hamburg in the north. By this time there is already a line 1 with several shipping and receiving stations between Düsseldorf and Munich. Lines 3 and 4 are already in the planning stage, with completion scheduled for later the same year. All Kombiverkehr lines run overnight, the trains being loaded in the evening and arriving at their destination in the morning.
Before the train sets off on its journey, secretary Ursula Sempf christens it with champagne. This special event is then celebrated with all guests in fitting style.
1969 First Rolling Road
Following the commencement of transport operations with swap bodies and semitrailers in Frankfurt am Main on 1 July 1969, the starting gun for the first Rolling Road is fired in autumn of the same year. After a successful trial in mid-September, complete load trains are transported in piggyback fashion on the rail line between Köln-Eifeltor and Ludwigsburg, near Stuttgart, from 1 October. This is made possible by the use of 24 special low-floor wagons of type Simmering-Graz-Pauker that the Bundesbahn has purchased. Two load trains, consisting of truck and trailer, are carried on every three wagons. A total of 16 trucks are transportied, departing Cologne at 19.58 that evening and reaching Ludwigsburg at 01.40 the next morning. The drivers sleep in the couchette. The forwarder pays 355 marks for the one-way journey. Trains are scheduled to depart daily.
The Rolling Road between Cologne and Ludwigsburg marks the start of a new chapter in the corporate history of Kombiverkehr KG.
In 1976 the line is switched to run from Cologne to Munich.
1969 to 1990 Profitable use of licences in Combined Transport
The history of long-distance road haulage shows that commercial freight transport has been strictly regulated in Germany since the emergency decree on overland transport of 6 October 1931. The aim was to regulate competition between road and rail transport by introducing a licence requirement, a quota system and price rules under the German Reich road traffic tariff (Reichskraftwagentarif - RKT). A distinction was made between works traffic and commercial freight traffic, and a local transport zone of 50 kilometres was established.
Long-distance freight forwarding permits must be deposited with Deutsche Bundesbahn in order to take part in Combined Transport. International transport is exempt from this requirement.
By depositing only one licence on a daily basis, the forwarder can arrange two or three rail journeys, depending on the transport distance. In 1972 it is possible to transport 70 piggyback consignments on any day of the month with a one-month licence, with this figure rising to 90 from 1987. An important reason for forwarders to use Combined Transport on a sustained basis.
The tariff requirement in the road haulage sector is abolished at the turn of 1992/1993, making it possible to enter the market with a collective licence. The national licences no longer apply.
1970 First international service
October 1970 sees the first foreign route offered by Kombiverkehr KG in unaccompanied transport:
Frankfurt/Ludwigsburg – Paris. As expected, it develops slowly. This is because the price and journey time do not yet make the Combined Transport service sufficiently attractive for operators. Another reason is the lack of approved swap bodies that would allow better use to be made of the corner height of just 3.20 metres allowed in France. This is exacerbated by the difficulty that it is not always easy to obtain approval for collecting French trailers using German tractors and vice versa from the stations, impairing collaboration between the French and German transport operators.
1972 Transport link to West Berlin
Kombiverkehr starts moving goods to West Berlin in response to the transit agreement between the FRG and the GDR on 17 December 1971. There is an end-to-end Combined Transport service by rail from Bochum, Bremen and Hanover to West Berlin from 1972. The trains run several times a day, carrying food – and coffee in particular – from Bremen for the citizens of West Berlin. The transport units are mostly empty on the return journey, which is not really much of a problem for the forwarders due to the existing empty load price of Deutsche Bundesbahn.
Kombiverkehr arranges transport services as far as the Helmstedt border crossing in conjunction with Deutsche Bundesbahn. Over in the east there is a contractual relationship with Deutsche Reichsbahn, which pulls the trains as far as the "Hamburger- und Lehrter Güterbahnhof (HuL)" terminal in Berlin and is in charge of crane operations to load and unload the transport containers.
1972 “Piggy Packers” imported from the USA
In 1972 Kombiverkehr imports the first mobile, rubber-tyred and non-rail-dependent cargo handling
vehicles, going by the name “Piggy Packer”, from overseas into Germany. Since there are no mobile straddle carriers for loading transport units in Europe at the time, Kombiverkehr buys the necessary equipment in from the USA.
The first Piggy Packer is installed in Neuss, where it facilitates the loading and unloading of trucks in the new terminal from January 1973. In 1974 a second such carrier is installed in the Köln-Eifeltor terminal. Including transport and customs duties, a Piggy Packer costs DM 650,000.00.
These innovative cargo handling vehicles allow truck swap bodies and semitrailers to be lifted, moved and set down with grapplers. The swivel pins of the spreader grip the upper corner fittings of the containers. Each Piggy Packer has a lifting capacity of 40 metric tons, a maximum total weight of 100 tons and a handling interval of about three minutes.
This acquisition demonstrates how Kombiverkehr was even then able to optimise its core business with new and expanded business fields thanks to pioneering technology projects.
1986 IT applications programmed in-house
In the mid-1980s Kombiverkehr begins to program IT applications itself, recruiting specialists just for that purpose. The company introduces the first programs in 1986. These are designed, developed and programmed in-house from then on. The very first program is called “KIS” and is a customer information system, followed by “ABS” for order processing.
In 1992 ABS is replaced by the successor system, Alibaba. KIS is used by the staff until 1999 and then superseded by the new KOBRA system for the commercial processing of invoices and orders. Initially it is still referred to as “the new KIS”. KOBRA is mainly introduced because the manufacturer of KIS discontinued maintenance support for the program. Kombiverkehr also needs a new system in order to handle the commercial processing of the block trains that it now offers, as the previous KIS was unable to provide this option.
Even today, Kombiverkehr still programs the majority of its essential IT systems itself. This is the only solution if all the requirements and specifications that the company places on the systems are to be met efficiently, promptly and economically. Some assistance is obtained by awarding contracts to IT service providers and web agencies.
1989 First block trains
Kombiverkehr buys block trains with fixed rolling stock for the first time, deploying them between Cologne and Verona from 29 May 1989.
Piggyback transport from Germany to Italy via the Brenner Pass is part of what is known as the Brenner strategy for relieving the Brenner route. The switch to block trains must be seen as complementing the expansion of the product range in unaccompanied transport, helping to improve its attractiveness by enhancing quality. The new block trains can for the first time run from Cologne to Verona without the need for shunting. This allows shorter journey times from day C to day B as well as higher punctuality rates to be achieved.
The switch to block train prices in freight invoicing with the railways also gives the companies involved in Combined Transport greater flexibility when it comes to pricing, which is adjusted with the change in rate systems in 1992.
Today Kombiverkehr buys in all national and international routes as block trains from the railways and markets them to the forwarders.
1989 Ingolstadt-Brennersee Rolling Road
Following the introduction of the first Rolling Road between Cologne and Ludwigsburg in 1969, the
first international RoRo service from Cologne to Verona in 1972 and further routes such as Munich – Ala or Mainz – Gustavsburg, the end of the eighties sees the advent of one of probably the two best known and most legendary Rolling Roads offered by Kombiverkehr.
Launched on 1 December 1989, the new Ingolstadt – Brennersee v.v. route offers five train pairs a day. The new product is intended to help relieve road transit traffic through the Alps. Right from the start capacity utilisation in the north-south direction reaches 60 to 70 per cent, rising to more than 80 per cent in the first few months of 1990. Several of the five daily departures are regularly booked out during this period, so that a tangible increase in volumes carried on this route can only be realised with additional trains and improved timetabling.
Due to traffic jams in Ingolstadt city centre, in May 1994 the Rolling Road is relocated from Ingolstadt’s main railway station to Manching. The Manching – Brennersee RoRo reaches its heyday in 2003 with 15 train pairs a day, before utilisation drops sharply following the abolition of the ecopoint system in Austria. The service is terminated in December 2004.
1990 First CT trains from West to East Germany
The fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 and the subsequent reunification of Germany opens up further territory for Kombiverkehr within Germany. Together with the Bundesbahn and the Deutsche Reichsbahn, East Germany's equivalent, new piggyback routes are added with the aim of opening up key locations in the east of Germany to forwarders and transport companies committed to Combined Transport. Having already offered services to and from West Berlin in 1972, Kombiverkehr launches the first combined trains after the fall of the Wall from West Germany to Dresden, Leipzig and Zwickau in the GDR in September 1990. The trains depart Bochum and Frankfurt am Main and travel overnight. A direct train also serves Berlin from Nuremberg at this time.
Further routes are introduced in 1991, including trains from Dresden and Zwickau to Nuremberg and Munich with onward connections to and from Italy as well as trains from Berlin, Leipzig and Zwickau to Stuttgart.
1994 25 years of Kombiverkehr
On 29 June 1994 Kombiverkehr celebrates its 50th birthday at the Hamburg-Billwerder terminal in the presence of the then federal transport minister, Matthias Wissmann, and some 300 guests. With a wide range of supporting events, an address by the minister and further speeches by key personalities in Combined Transport, this hot summer’s day will go down in the annals of the company.
The words “Hooray, we’re still alive!” of current Administrative Board chair Gudrun Winner-Athens during her speech on the “Wishes and hopes of a user of Combined Transport” will never be forgotten. Alluding to the 50th anniversary of Kombiverkehr KG in 2019, she calls on transport politicians to look at future collaboration from the perspective of the railway. Gudrun Winner-Athens is joined as speaker by the then president of the Federation of German Long-Distance Freight Transport, Dr. Eberhard Sinneker (of Deutsche Bahn Beteiligungsgesellschaft), Werner Külper (chairman of the Administrative Board of Kombiverkehr KG), Dr. Werner Maywald (on behalf of the management of Kombiverkehr KG), Eugen Wagner (Hamburg senator) and Bernhardt Bünck (president of the Federation for Forwarding and Warehousing).
1994 Dresden – Lovosice Rolling Road
Kombiverkehr organises a rather special kind of Rolling Road on behalf of the Saxony Ministry of
Economics and Labour in 1994. A service between Dresden and Lovosice in the Czech Republic is
launched in ultra-quick time as an emergency measure to relieve pressure on the roads and at the
border crossings through the Erzgebirge mountains. Thanks to smooth and efficient cooperation
between the participating rail operators, local authorities and Czech partner company Bohemiakombi, large portions of the heavy goods traffic start to roll over the 100 kilometre-long train track through the Elbe valley on 25 September. That means more than 17,000 truck drivers in almost the first four months alone are spared the slow journeys along narrow roads through villages in the mountains and waiting times of up to 36 hours at the border.
Saxony's government spends just under ten million euros on the pilot project by the end of 1995. The attractiveness of the product declines as the subsidies are later withdrawn. The 750,000th truck is carried on 11 June 2003. Up to twelve train pairs a day, each with a capacity of 23 spaces, are offered in 2003.
Following the accession of the Czech Republic into the EU and the resulting abolition of the need for a permit, capacity utilisation falls to less than ten per cent. On 18 May 2004 the decision is taken to discontinue the product. The last Kombiverkehr RoRo train rolls through the Erzgebirge mountains in June 2004.
1996 Kombiverkehr schedules the first company train
14 January 1996 marks the first trip of a company train of Kombiverkehr KG, beginning a whole new chapter in the history of the company to date. Whereas national and international trains in accompanied and unaccompanied transport have until now been the “mainstay” of Kombiverkehr, the start of this service offered by the company that day opens up another important sales avenue. That's because company trains now make it possible for major forwarders to tailor individual train products entirely to their own requirements on frequency and timetabling and commission such a service.
Here too, Kombiverkehr KG is really blazing the trail. Kombiverkehr is the first operator in Europe to introduce company trains as a new product in partnership with a major customer. What in the midnineties is initially regarded with extreme suspicion by many other operators will eventually go on to be copied many times. The unique ability to book fixed capacities will increasingly be transferred to open trains within Kombiverkehr’s product range over the following years. Even today, forwarders can book “fixed” part capacities on trains.
The first company train is ordered by the then Hangartner AG. Kombiverkehr runs it as an international service on the Rostock – Verona v.v. route on behalf of the customer. From Rostock the train has onward connections to and from Trelleborg via the Baltic Sea ports. The combination of ferry and truck is used mainly for transporting goods and articles of a large Swedish furniture chain.
Complementing the open train products available to any forwarder, this particular business field becomes an important pillar of Kombiverkehr from 1996 to today. A large number of company-owned trains now use the Kombiverkehr network.
1996 Far-reaching change to the articles of association
To strengthen Kombiverkehr’s profile as a forward-looking commercial enterprise, the partners agree to a far-reaching change to the articles of association on 27 June 1996. The existing partners of the company – the road freight transport associations and Deutsche Bahn – sells their shares to the partnership, thereby laying the foundation for what is known as a limited partnership structure. At the same time, the associations and Deutsche Bahn join the partnership as limited partners, DB with a double contribution giving it the right to send two representatives to the administrative board of the partnership.
To enable continued access to the specialist expertise provided by the associations, an advisory board is formed. It establishes the appropriate by-laws in its constitutive meeting on 20 March 1997 and will in future be available to offer advice to the Administrative Board and the management team.
1997 First use of proprietary wagons
In March 1997 Kombiverkehr uses the new 73-foot container carrier on the Köln-Eifeltor – Verona v.v. route. These wagons, which are nicknamed “bananas” due to their shape, allow the greatest possible number of consignments for the rolling stock used on the route. They are the very first wagons that Kombiverkehr buys and puts into operation.
Among the outstanding features of the 73’ container carriers of type Sggns are their low tare weight of just 22 metric tons, the rubber roller springs, gas hydraulic buffers, hardened buffer plate and long overhang. The 73’ container carriers are used primarily to transport up to three 7.45 m-long swap bodies and containers. This means they can carry heavy Euronorm tanks, for instance, but other container combinations can also be loaded optimally onto the carrier. The carriers are manufactured by Talbot, an Aachen company.
Kombiverkehr still has 23 of this type of carrier in use today.
1999 Railway undertaking
In November 1999, Kombiverkehr receives a licence as a public railway undertaking and thus the
"authorisation to provide rail freight transport services". This gives Kombiverkehr the opportunity to
buy routes from the respective network operators and make them available to those traction providers who are able to carry out these transport services the most efficiently and, if necessary, provide its own traction.
In its capacity as a licensed railway undertaking, Kombiverkehr provides its own traction services on the German rail network in 2007. When the quality of the seaport hinterland services ex Rotterdam were on the verge of permanent decline, there was a need for partners to act quickly, flexibly and unbureaucratically with the aim of achieving a significant improvement of quality. In agreement with DB Intermodal, Kombiverkehr makes use of its licence as an authorised railway undertaking for the first time to use its own traction on the Rotterdam – Duisburg RSC route. Kombiverkehr takes over the section of the line as far as Emmerich and RRF provides traction for the train from Emmerich.
Kombiverkehr then sets up KombiRail Europe B.V. at the end of December 2008 The holding company obtains its safety certificate in the Netherlands in mid-2009 and becomes a licensed independent railway undertaking in November 2009. KombiRail has operated end-to-end services between Port of Rotterdam and Duisburg/Dortmund by itself since the beginning of 2010. Initially covered under the Kombiverkehr flag, the service to and from Rotterdam RSC is transferred to KombiRail.
2000 Kombi-Netz 2000+
Kombiverkehr has to date bought the train products booked by forwarding customers from the open train system of Deutsche Bahn. The start of the new millennium sees a “revolutionary” change in Combined Transport within Germany, however. In line with its international block train network, Kombiverkehr, working in partnership with DB Cargo, switches its product range in domestic German transport to block trains alone. These connect the industrial centres in overnight shuttle services.
The 26 new trains depart their respective stations on the evening of Monday, 31 January 2000. From this day on, some 50 routes within Germany are offered in the Kombi-Netz 2000+.
The original plan is to expand the network by a further 16 trains and 30 routes in a second stage in 2001. This plan will not be realised in its entirety, but some trains will subsequently be added to the Kombi-Netz lines on selected routes where block train volumes are not yet sufficient.
The launch of the national Kombi-Netz marks a significant improvement in the Combined Transport product range:
- Fast, high-quality connections between the industrial areas
- Intensification of gateway services linking the national and international network to form a Europewide block train system
- Effective quality management together with DB Cargo and DB Netz
- Price stability until the end of 2001
- Continuous timetable improvements
The introduction of the new national Kombi-Netz is accompanied by a three-stage advertising campaign in the DVZ industry newspaper. The three motifs are activated within a week.
In 2011 Kombi-Netz 2000+ becomes the de.NETdirekt+ network.
2000 Lokomotion Projektgesellschaft is formed
In January 200 Kombiverkehr KG, itself a licensed railway undertaking since 1999, helps to form
Lokomotion Projektgesellschaft mbH, which in 2001 is converted from project status into Lokomotion Gesellschaft für Schienentraktion mbH.
The purpose of the newly formed Lokomotion is the operation and marketing of rail traction services. The aim of the company is to improve the quality of German-Italian rail freight transport across the Alps and draw road traffic from the Brenner motorway to the railway.
Lokomotion is the first privately-owned railway undertaking to start end-to-end traction across two national borders, which it does in collaboration with Rail Traction Company S.P.A. (RTC), Bozen, on 16 October 2001. Initially two train pairs a day run on the line from Munich to Verona and back again. Lokomotion and RTC quickly make a name for themselves as reliable providers on the Brenner axis, which is beset by huge quality issues. The trains reach an above-average punctuality rate of 85 per cent across three railway networks and two borders.
The partners of the company are now RTC, Societá Trasporti su Rotaia (STR), Bozen, DB Cargo AG, Mainz, and Kombiverkehr, Frankfurt. Lokomotion currently employs more than 200 people and together with RTC has almost 70 locomotives in the vehicle pool, 40 of which are suitable for interoperable use. It posts turnover in excess of 80 million euros.
2002 Deutsche Bahn acquires a stake
In the 2001 financial year the limited partners of Kombiverkehr take a further decisive step towards
shaping the future of the company. Cooperation is the new watchword. The trend towards
professional cooperation between the two companies had already been strengthened in stages during the development of Kombi-Netz 2000+. At the same time, there are clear signs of a change in the strategic orientation of DB Cargo in favour of viewing and actively shaping Combined Transport as a market of the future. The road to a comprehensive reform of the cooperation is open. Both DB Cargo and Kombiverkehr want to continue expanding national and international transport services while simultaneously anchoring Combined Transport as a sustainable option and providing new stimulus.
Deutsche Bahn therefore joins the Kombiverkehr partnership on 1 January 2002. The aim is to
improve the economic viability and attractiveness of the product range for forwarders still further by
bundling the expertise of Kombiverkehr and DB Cargo, particularly in the areas of sales and
production. The organisational basis for doing so is the participation of DB Cargo in Kombiverkehr in equal partnership with the forwarders. For both partners, Combined Transport is a business area with rising growth potential.
2005 First Kombiverkehr shuttle train across the fixed link
On 1 March 2005 the first Kombiverkehr shuttle train crosses the fixed link. Connecting Duisburg and Malmö, the train reaches its destination on an entirely rail-borne route across Jutland, the Little and the Great Belt and the Öresund Bridge – a journey time more than 24 hours shorter compared with transport by ferry. This means that a large proportion of the Swedish terminals can be reached a whole day sooner than was the case with the previous service.
For customers from the forwarding and logistics industries, the new product is a key addition to their existing routes in intermodal transport on the highly-frequented transport corridor to and from Sweden. From now on, forwarders can decide for themselves which is the most suitable route to take – by rail across the fixed link or using the train product combining with the ferry connections via the Baltic Sea ports of Kiel, Lübeck and Rostock. Alongside the geographical criteria, the price, journey time and quality of service are the critical factors distinguishing the two products from each other in the individual case.
Today the open Coevorden/Bad Bentheim – Malmö v.v. and Köln – Malmö v.v. trains as well as some company trains cross into Scandinavia over the fixed link. In 2018 Kombiverkehr shipped some 45,000 consignments over the rail-borne land route between Germany and Sweden.
2006 Newly developed T3000 pocket wagon
Kombiverkehr taps into the market for large-volume transport units in 2006 with an investment in 30 newly developed pocket wagons for the transport of megatrailers by rail. The company played a key role in the development of the T3000 pocket wagon, so named because of the typical inner megatrailer height of three metres. In addition to the semitrailer coupling, which can be adjusted to three different heights, a key feature of the new T3000 pocket wagon design is the geometry of the cargo space, which is tailored to the low-lying parts of the megatrailer. That makes the cargo space suitable for 13.60 m-long megatrailers with side safety devices and fixed underride guard. The modified pocket also offers more space for the wide tyres common with megatrailers.
Following approval, the wagons are delivered to Kombiverkehr in the months of April to July 2006. The first mega pocket wagons are used on the Kornwestheim – Hamburg – Rostock block train service. Further routes in the national Kombi-Netz 2000+ and in international transport are added as the number of such wagons rises.
In September 2006 Kombiverkehr takes advantage of an opportunity to buy another 50 wagons of the same time at short notice from a current production series. Following the largest investment by the company, a further 100 wagons of this unique design are delivered at the start of 2013. That increases the number of wagons owned by Kombiverkehr to 262. They can still be found in
Kombiverkehr's inventory today.
2007 One million consignments
On 27 December 2007 Kombiverkehr achieves something unprecedented in the industry when
forwarding company HOYER delivers the one millionth truck consignment for a Kombiverkehr train – a 20-foot tank container – to the Hamburg-Billwerder terminal. That makes Kombiverkehr the first
operator in Europe to shift over one million truck consignments to the climate-friendly railway within a financial year.
Gudrun Winner-Athens, chair of the Supervisory Board of Kombiverkehr KG, and the managing
directors Armin Riedl and Robert Breuhahn celebrate this event at the scene together with Thomas
Hoyer, managing director of Hoyer Internationale Spedition, in the presence of representatives of the companies involved and the press.
To thank the customers who have enabled this milestone to be reached, Kombiverkehr publishes a full-page thank-you advertisement in the industry newspaper, the Deutsche Verkehrs-Zeitung, on 15 January 2008.
2007 Online timetable information
On 5 June 2007 Kombiverkehr presents its new interactive, database-assisted timetable tool on www.kombiverkehr.de. Thanks to the new timetable information system, transport companies and forwarders can now find out online at any time the latest information about transporting a container, semitrailer or swap body on their required route by rail throughout Europe. Developed as part of the EU’s BRAVO project, the extensive database application is one of the high points of the new web presence that Kombiverkehr unveils in 2007. The final implementation of the new tool is the most important prerequisite for the new company website in its then form.
The new timetable information tool is delivered with the help of HaCon, a service provider specialising in software for planning, scheduling and information systems that is still used by Kombiverkehr today. Following various minor “teething troubles”, more and more adjustments and changes are made after the system goes live for the first time.
In July 2010 the timetable information tool is supplemented with the “Personal timetable booklets” application, which enables timetables to be personalised to suit, saved and then output in either PDF or XML format.
2009 Online-based emissions calculator
At the transport logistic exhibition in Munich on 12 May 2009, Kombiverkehr is the first operator to present a proprietary emissions calculator for intermodal transport. Offering a ready reckoner for pollutant emissions on road and rail, the company enables customers and other interested parties to verify the ecological benefits of Combined Transport in figures.
Green logistics is a major issue at this time, with a sharp rise in enquiries from customers about evidence and comparisons of emissions. More and more companies from the freight industry and the logistics sector are drawing up their own environmental balances and want to know how these can be improved through the use of Combined Transport.
This is exactly where Kombiverkehr’s ready reckoner comes in: it calculates the emissions for rail freight transport based on average traction current mix figures from across the 27 states of the EU. Forwarders and hauliers can calculate the emissions of harmful pollutants and the consumption of energy resources caused by their transports with just a few clicks of the mouse. The emissions of end-to-end road haulage traffic are compared against those of Combined Transport. The new software integrated in the online timetable information tool is available free of charge on the website at www.kombiverkehr.de. In addition to carbon dioxide and the consumption of energy resources in diesel equivalent litres, kilowatt hours or megajoules, values for nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide, nonmethane hydrocarbons and fine dust are displayed in tables and charts.
Designed in conjunction with Hanover-based HaCon Ingenieurgesellschaft mbH, the internet application for the rapid calculation of pollutant emissions has a sound scientific basis. It utilises data from the EcoTransIT software tool, which is recognised and applied across Europe and developed by a number of railway undertakings in cooperation with the renowned Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IFEU) in Heidelberg.
In 2015 the application is adapted to the new calculation standard for forwarding and logistics, DIN EN 16258.
2016 Compulsory online booking
Having already set up its first online booking screen for customers back in 2002 under the web
address www.it-service.kombiverkehr.de/buchen,Kombiverkehr supplements the existing B2B
booking system for major customers by introducing a new online booking option in 2016 with an
application that has been fully revised in terms of content and technology.
As early as 2014, Kombiverkehr launches a project to modify its existing online booking system with the aim of handling all incoming bookings electronically in future. Together with external partners, an internet-based, user-friendly and secure booking application is developed. It enters its pilot phase at the beginning of 2015, when selected regular customers test the system so that it can be refined and attuned to the requirements of any future users. The new modified application goes live in mid-July and is thus available to all Kombiverkehr customers.
The new online booking system can be used via the myKOMBIVERKEHR application. Pre-generated input fields keep the error ratio to a minimum during data input and booking information can be saved in template form and thus used over and over again.
When a booking is confirmed, the order can be seen in consignment tracking at the same time. CESAR, a platform for tracking & tracing developed by several operators, allows schedulers to view the transport status in order to manage the collection of consignments.
2017 New training campaign
Since August 2017 Kombiverkehr has offered young people the opportunity to train for a career as a management assistant in forwarding and logistics. Kombiverkehr decided to offer a training programme in response to the current situation in the labour market, the shortage of skilled workers and the difficulty in recruiting staff who specialise in the business field of Combined Transport.
New apprentices are attracted through the attention-grabbing “Become a Combiner” advertising campaign. Interested parties can find useful information on training at Kombiverkehr on the web page “www.werde-kombinierer.de” and a Facebook page and can apply for jobs directly online.
During the first few months of their training the new recruits visit and assist in numerous departments: from Sales and Transport Management to Billing and Invoice Verification or Corporate Communications. The apprentices learn how to prepare for exams and attend internal and external classes and advanced courses in order to gain their final qualifications. They also do a work placement with Spedition Bolloré, a partner company at Frankfurt Airport, in order to gain an understanding of other modes of transport.
2017 Digitalisation of intermodal supply chains – KV 4.0
In September 2017 the consortium partners Kombiverkehr, DB Cargo, Lokomotion, SBB Cargo
Deutschland, KTL Kombi-Terminal Ludwigshafen, Hupac Transport, Hoyer, Paneuropa Transport,
Hupac Intermodal, Bertschi and Hupac SpA begin work on a project entitled “Digitalisation of
intermodal supply chains – KV 4.0”. Kombiverkehr is a co-initiator right from the beginning, taking a
leading role in the project team. The company is thus playing an active part in this important scheme for the modernisation and future viability of the intermodal sector within the logistics industry.
As digitalisation gathers pace and customers call for more transparency in the supply chain, all the project partners are well aware that a standardised information network developed in close collaboration is the only way to improve the quality of the flow of information at a vertical level between forwarders, CT operators, rail freight companies and infrastructure providers. The core remit of the project is therefore the intelligent merging of these data fragments and the corresponding processing for different users. The overarching aim is to make the complex logistical process more transparent and manageable for users all the way along the intermodal transport chain and beyond national borders.
A newly developed shared data hub as well as standardised interfaces provides direct access to the relevant transport parameters (e.g. order and timetable information, estimated times of arrival and shipping information) that are developed and implemented specially for the requirements in Combined Transport. All project partners in the logistics industry are working collectively on the specification of the data hub, the definition of the interface and any necessary adjustments to business processes. One of the stated aims is the calculation in real time of virtually assured forecasts of pick-up times for transport units when trains run late. It is also intended that the findings of real-time data on the initial road leg will be used in order to optimise processes in the terminals and enable operators to make full use of train capacities.
The project is sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) within the framework of the Modernity Fund research initiative (mFUND).
Kombiverkehr GmbH & Co. KG has evolved together with its limited partners, customers and partner companies from pioneer to European market leader. It is now firmly anchored in the intermodal world as a neutral provider. All of this finds expression in our birthday claim.