Why choose a Block Train ?
The customer will choose a block train when the quantity of his goods can fill a whole train. A block train consists therefore of goods from one shipper compared to the Single Wagon Load product which train’s can have multiple shippers. The length of a block train varies but normally it is between 400 and 700 meters. There are ongoing tests around Europe which aims to increase the maximum length of a block train up to 1 000 meter.
Common commodities for block train transportation are agriculture, coal, steel and automotive transports. The wagons can either belong to the customer, wagon keeper e.g. chemical wagons, or are rented by the railway operator; in either case, a high use of the wagons is the most cost beneficial since the wagons are very often dedicated to a special business.
How does it work
A whole train, containing the goods of one client, is transported from point A to point B. No shunting (at least a minimum) of the wagons at the marshalling yards is necessary. Block train are less complex than Singe Wagon Load traffic because the train does not need to be stopped for shunting procedures. It has the advantage that the customer can transport quickly his goods (without losing time due to the stops in the marshalling yard). The disadvantage though is that he needs to have sufficient goods to fill his train. This because of the customer takes the business risk when he is purchasing the whole train and he has very often to pay for a full train even though he doesn’t have goods for it.
The introduction of deregulation has created competition in the freight market. The competition exists mainly in the full train business and this is because of that an operator only needs one locomotive and a couple of wagons to maintain a service between the starting and the ending point. This is a big difference compared to the Single Wagon Load product which has a large amount of fixed costs (maintaining the network by setting up a service).