AWT invests tens of millions of crowns more into its Ostrava-Paskov terminal
AWT, one of Europe’s largest private rail transporters, has commenced the next stage of the modernisation and expansion of its Ostrava-Paskov terminal. The company is to invest around CZK 41 million over the coming months, mainly into paving surfaces and extending the terminal’s capacity. The planned modernisation activities will not disrupt transshipment operations at the terminal.
The value of investments made by AWT into the Ostrava-Paskov terminal over the past five years has by now reached more than CZK 150 million and the terminal is among the five fastest growing terminals in the country. It is a regular destination for trains arriving from numerous European seaports, such as Rotterdam in the Netherlands, Koper in Slovenia, and Hamburg in Germany, and from the inland interterminal in Verona, Italy.
Investments previously realised are this year expected to result in a record number of handled containers at the terminal. The total should climb to approximately 60,000 (in contrast to last year's 43,000), meaning a considerable amount of trucks will be removed from the country’s road network. One complete freight train can replace as many as 45 trucks that would otherwise criss-cross Europe. The freight train reduces the role of road transport to merely the final distribution of goods within the target region.
“Intermodal transport combines the advantages of environmental friendliness and the safety of rail transport on the one hand with the speed of the transport on the other. While intermodal transport has been immensely popular in western Europe for years, it has for a long time lagged behind in the Czech Republic. AWT is one of the pioneers of intermodal transport and perceives considerable opportunities in this segment,” said Martin Cetl, who is responsible for AWT intermodal transport.
Further development of domestic rail and intermodal transport is hindered, among other things, by the legislative environment. Of all central and eastern European countries, the Czech Republic applies the highest fees for the use of its rail tracks, causing transiting trains to bypass the country by taking routes through Poland or Austria. At the same time, the government is not capable of supporting intermodal transport by utilising available European funds. For example, last year, the Ministry of Transport failed to meet the deadline for preparing and announcing the relevant corresponding programmes in time, forcing AWT to completely finance the terminal modernisation from its own funds, despite previous expectations.
The construction of a small trans-shipment yard commenced in 2007 on a brownfield site of the former Paskov Mine. The main reason for selecting this site was its location. Situated in the midst of several industrial zones, with an established link to the railway network and easy access to the motorway, and with close proximity to the borders with Poland and Slovakia, the Paskov terminal has assumed the role of a logistics centre in the northern Moravian region. “The terminal is ideally positioned with links to key European seaports,” Martin Cetl emphasised.
The terminal saw very substantial development in 2011. “We extended the existing rail tracks, laid new ones, and paved a third of our handling surfaces last year. This year, we want to lay interlocking pavement on the remaining 21,000 m2 of the premises,” said Bohumil Bonczek, AWT Chief Technical Officer. In order to avoid having to limit operations during the reconstruction, a relief transshipment yard has been opened in Sta?í?, only six kilometres away.
Once the modernisation is complete, the storage capacity of the Ostrava-Paskov terminal will increase from the current 1,700 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units) to 2,400 TEU. The number of employees is expected to increase to thirty. When it first opened, the terminal employed only two people. Cargoes are handled by four specialised machines called reachstackers. The reachstackers are capable of lifting loads weighing as much as 45 tonnes, whether they are containers or truck trailers, the transport of which by rail has been dynamically growing in volume.