Rolling Highway

Piggyback and low-noise over the Brenner pass

Shortly after the beginning of spring, ROLA, the Rolling Highway, started with more departures on the Brenner Passage. Since April 6, train pairs have been running almost daily between Wörgl in Austria and Trento in Italy. This represents a doubling of the previous offer. We take a look at the resource-saving solution for freight transport through the Alps.

Getting more freight onto the railways is not a new demand in the world of logistics. To take the lorry over the Brenner Pass at the same time is the offer of the freight transport subsidiary of the Austrian Federal Railways. Under the abbreviation ROLA, the Rail Cargo Group offers the so-called Rolling Road.
Special low-floor freight wagons make it possible to bring the trucks completely onto the railway tracks. For the implementation of supply chains, this creates an exciting combination possibility of road and rail freight transport in the Alpine region between the Inn Valley and South Tyrol. This plays an important role in this region in particular: due to geographical, climatic and infrastructural conditions, it not only represents the transition between Central and Southern Europe, but also frequently becomes the eye of the needle.

Relief for drivers, companies and the environment

The journey of the trucks on the ROLA offers both the transport companies and the shippers behind them as well as the truck drivers a multitude of advantages. In addition, the environment benefits from this possibility of transporting goods via the Brenner Passage due to saved CO2 emissions.
From the companies' point of view, the trump cards of the offer include not only the improvement of the eco-balance and the reduction of fuel consumption, but also the savings on toll payments and the option to transport goods even when a wide variety of driving bans are in force on the roads. At the same time, truckers on board the train can take the necessary driving breaks on short routes and spend the entire prescribed rest period on longer routes.

What needs to be taken into account?

To ensure that everything goes as planned with the transfer between Wörl and the Brenner station (the most frequently booked route), Brenner and Trento, as well as on the entire route, there are a few aspects to consider in advance and during the piggyback procedure.

The most important things at a glance:

  • Book in good time, as seats are in demand, but no more than four days in advance.
  • If all the information is available, a written reservation can be made in 20 minutes
  • Special rules apply at the terminals to ensure safe operation
  • There are some exceptions for dangerous goods
  • Wearing FFP2 masks is currently compulsory
  • There is an on-board service for the supply of truck drivers
  • There is a discount for eight or more round trips per calendar month

Now daily again

In the course of the Corona pandemic, ROLA transports between Austria and Italy were temporarily suspended. This happened immediately after the virus appeared in spring 2020 and then again at the turn of the year last year.
After Easter, the Rolling Road will be rolling again – and even with an expanded service. The provider currently offers six so-called round trips between Wörgl and Trento per week, between Wörgl and the Brenner station there are even 24 per day. If the capacities of the transport service, which grew strongly before the Corona crisis, are not sufficient, the frequency can be further increased, Rail Cargo Group announced even before the new spring start.

On quiet tracks

The low-floor wagons used for ROLA are now completely equipped with disc brakes. This allows low-noise operation of rail freight transport in this region.
In 2020, a total of 147,340 trucks were transported using the ROLA solutions. If the Corona crisis does not hit harder than feared, the resource-saving transport alternative could resume its growth course here.

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