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Grocery Chain Starts Rail-Based Distribution

The Swedish grocery chain Hemköp and their distributor DAGAB have teamed up with the national railway to develop a flexible rail-based delivery system with low overhead

Hemköp, with it's smiling sun logo, profiles itself as being the most caring supermarket chain in Sweden. They don't sell eggs from hens in cages and their meats are exclusively Swedish, which is seen as a guarantee against gene manipulation and such.

Hemköp and its distributor DAGAB, wanted to make their transports more environmentally friendly but of course disliked the idea of being restricted to expensive intermodal service.

Their solution was rudimentary: equip each train with a forklift and get the train driver to operate it. This does away with cranes, elaborate terminals, and does not require truck drivers to spend downtime sitting in a train (as is most often the case with so-called Rollende Landstrasse or rolling highway trains).

The train effectively becomes a self-contained transport system, which loads and unloads freight wherever there's room. Trucks then drive the groceries straight to the store. (Right photo by Jan Lindahl)

The freight division of SJ has for several years tried to zeroe in on custom solutions for companies with big, recurring transport flows, and this setup is the latest example of its success in this endeavour. However, SJ Gods has not moved fast enough away from the carload freight which it has failed to make profitable, and this has marred performance. In 1995, SJ Gods made its first profit for 20 years, but a downturn in the market returned SJ Gods to a loss in 1996.

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