Recently, WWL was approached to ship a series of rail wagons from Spain to Chile for an expansion of the Santiago metro network.

Rail wagons are a major, regular export for Spain, and WWL has provided transport services for their delivery many times over the years. That might suggest that such a cargo is run of the mill, but nothing could be further from the truth.

“We are well recognised by the different stakeholders for our experience,” says Ramón Oliete, Managing Director of WWL’s Iberia Ocean branch, based in Barcelona. “When transporting this type of cargo, everyone involved wants it to go smoothly, but in a very competitive market not everyone is willing to pay for good service. However, our customers recognise that our service offers the safest option as well as the most efficient.”

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The option that WWL provides is its roll-on/roll-off (RoRo) service that loads the train wagons onboard the vessel using rolltrailers.

“By shipping the wagons RoRo, everything runs smoothly without any problems, because we are not touching the wagons,” Oliete says. “We have the appropriate equipment and the appropriate vessel for cargo of this sort, which has no packing and nothing to protect it. WWL has been in this market for many years and offers the best solution for carrying complete, specialised cargoes.”

During 2016 and 2017, a total of 185 wagons are being shipped from Spain to Chile for the metro extension. “We hope to carry at least half of the total on WWL vessels,” Oliete says.

The first batch of five wagons was loaded in Zeebrugge, followed by further shipments out of Santander and Zeebrugge. At the time of writing, WWL had moved 35 wagons, with more to come.

The key point about the RoRo transport choice is that the wagons are not being lifted by crane, so the risk of damage is minimised. At the loading port, each wagon is rolled from truck to rolltrailer – WWL’s own equipment – in advance of the ship’s arrival, so they are ready to be towed onboard. “That means it is just pushing or pulling, without touching the wagon,” Oliete says.

At the port of arrival, San Antonio in Chile, the wagons are towed out of the vessel and then wait on the rolltrailers until collection by the company providing the special road transport to Santiago. “We leave the rolltrailers at the port and pick them up on the next WWL vessel call,” Oliete says.

The interest in the project has been high. “We had a lot of visitors at the port of unloading when the first shipment arrived, including the metro authorities, coming to check everything was done perfectly,” Oliete says. “They were impressed by the swift discharge time per unit from vessel to quayside and the safe operation, and they were very satisfied with the result. The wagons arrived in perfect condition.”