Make a mint from rubbish
Great potential for rail transport. In November 2021 the Austrian government set the course for the accelerated use of the railways in the network for the transport of waste. A railway eager to get its hands dirty is banking on a flexible container system.
An amendment to Austria’s waste management act AWG has stipulated the gradual reduction of distances over which waste may be transported. From next year waste weighing more than 10 t and expected to cover a distance of more than 300 km in Austria has to be hauled “by rail or other means of transport with equivalent or lower pollutant or greenhouse gas emissions, such as propulsion by fuel cell or electric motor”, the law states.
From 2024 onwards, the distance will be further reduced to 200 km, and from 2026 onwards it will stand at 100 km. The regulation won’t apply, however, if operators can prove that the corresponding capacities can’t be provided by rail.
Digital platform to manage transports
This also applies if, in the case of rail transport, the distance covered by road for the journey to and from one of the nearest railway loading points would amount to 25% or more of road transport.
The country’s federal ministry for climate action, the environment, energy, mobility, innovation and technology is setting up a digital platform through which operators will be able to search for offers to transport waste by rail.
The amendment comes in handy for the railways, especially for the state-owned ÖBB Rail Cargo Group (RCG), because the new law will enable it to transport more goods by rail.
Andreas Matthä, CEO of the ÖBB Holding, said that “as Austria’s largest climate protection company, we welcome the new regulations in the AWG. There’s still a great potential to shift freight transport to the railways.» He emphasised the fact that “up to 80% of total volumes of the waste sector are suitable for rail transport.” The volume of waste in the country comes to about 72 million t a year.
80% currently shifted by road
Excavated material, construction and demolition waste, household waste as well as ash and slag are particularly suitable for rail transport, due to their properties. About 80% thereof is nevertheless transported by road today.
RCG currently transports about 8 million t of waste a year, which is about 12% of the total waste volume in Austria. This takes 460,000 lorry journeys off the roads.
In order to combine the advantages of rail with those of flexible road haulage, RCG uses the so-called ‘Mobiler’ system, amongst other things, a hydraulic lifting device for the quick and uncomplicated handling of special ‘Mobiler’ containers.
Because it requires neither a crane nor a railway siding, the system is particularly suitable to access industrial centres that are without a direct railway siding of their own. RCG currently transports around 1 million t of various goods by rail every year in its approximately 1,000 ‘Mobiler’ containers.