Major cities all around the world are investing heavily in rail projects to move an ever-increasing population around quickly and efficiently. Nowhere can this be seen more than in the capital cities of Latin America.

Rail: Can we help you with your rail shipping needs?

With the help of WW Ocean, two major railcar manufacturers recently shipped 20 railcars units. Five fully-built units to each of Chile, Panama, and Peru, and five more railcar shells without bogies to Mexico. Thanks to WW Ocean’s global network of direct and transhipment routes, the Tombarra vessel handled the cargo for all four rail projects. This reduced the complexity in the loading port of Santander, Spain.

Four projects, one vessel 

While today’s ocean-going vessels are far different from the train ferries of the past, the principle is still the same: rail equipment is simply rolled on and off the vessel via a stern ramp with no lifting needed. WW Ocean vessels possess some of the tallest decks of any ocean carrier, so the size of the railcars is rarely an issue. 

“These two customers know us well and for them the most important factor is safety”, says Alex Hernandez from WW Ocean’s Spain office. “Our concept of horizontal handling – where lifting the wagons is not required – was important to them to help reduce risk”, says Alex Hernandez.

Specialist equipment to minimise handling 

To achieve such a smooth handling, 62-feet railed roll trailers were used to carry the fully-built rail units. As the shells were without bogies, the manufacturers designed a special support framework so they could be securely carried on WW Ocean’s specialised roll trailers.

“This process required some back-and-forth on the design options, based on the dimensions and weight of their units and our equipment so we could be sure there would be a safe and secure solution”, adds Alex.

Read more: How WW Ocean safely handles your breakbulk

As the manufacturers utilised specialist freight forwarders, a carefully constructed stowage plan was created and followed to ensure a precise coordination of operations. “For the railcars, the suspension was locked and secured from the lashing points to the roll trailer with chains, based on the weight of each railcar. The roll trailer was then lashed onto the deck to guarantee safe ocean transportation even in the event of bad weather”, explains Alex.

A reliable, regular service for rail cars 

Timing is critical for the delivery of rail cars to meet a tight project schedule. WW Ocean offers a stable liner service with a regular published timetable, which gives customers a good opportunity to plan ahead. This reduces both their risks and overall costs. The fleet of 60 includes roll-on/roll-off (RoRo) and pure car/truck carrier (PCTC) vessels.

Customer case: Smooth sailing to Chile

Transhipment possibilities are offered from ports in Northern Europe or the Mediterranean via Zeebrugge or Bremerhaven, and to ports on South America’s East and West Coast, Central America and the Caribbean, via Manzanillo.

Future looks bright for rail 

The shipment was successfully made in just 18 days to Veracruz, Mexico, up to 32 days for the delivery to San Antonio, Chile. The growth in rail infrastructure projects will be an important part of the future for WW Ocean.

“The monthly shipments of railcars will be increasing three-fold from next year for two of our current rail projects”, says Alex, who also identifies the new metro system in Quito, Ecuador, as another important driver of future rail cargo.