[AL AWARDS Stories #5] Optimisation of the outbound rail transport with axis trains

01 June 2018

You will be able to read below the fifth entry shortlisted for the Automotive Logistics Awards Europe 2018, in the category “FVL High performance”: the axis trains.

GEFCO's experts team have worked on this project with a major objective: to make more efficient FVL rail schemes with economic, leadtime and environemental benefits for its customer.

Which challenge our team had to take?

The rail schemes for a large car manufacturer were before based around a single wagon model: each wagon was loaded for a precise destination and transferred to a rail freight company. 

It was easy to manage them in the plant, but hard to have always a good vision on the situation of each wagon, with multiple rail legs needed.

The rail schemes optimisation started with 2 hubs that served as a rail marshalling yard. Each wagon had to take at least 2 rail lines, and eventually an inter- connection to their final destination. These Rail lines improved our visibility on the wagons situation, but they were not always well synchronized and the leadtimes had to be improved.

GEFCO wanted to propose new options to improve the global rail supply chains.
With a global and common reflection with our client and an “out of the box” way of thinking, we imagined a lean way to organize the wagons management. It has been jointly called “axis trains”.

Which solution had been imagined?

The "axis train" solution consists in a complete redesigning of the rail organization of the outbound logistics transport schemes without the use of rail marshalling yards.

It is taking into consideration the following points:


  • An axis train is a direct rail link between a compound A and a compound B, of which A or B can be a car manufacturer plant
  • An axis is open if and only if a volume allowing 2 round-trips minimum per week is identified. 
  • Factories are also used partially to deliver cars directly to the dealers which allows us to mostly suppress the empty wagons movements. 
  • The return of the train from the point B to A guarantees the availability of the wagons for the next departure A to B (lean management).

Additional solutions had been set up to adapt to the client volumes:


  • 2 of the plants with 30 km distance are considered as a single plant for certain destinations with less volume, which guarantees the 2 rotations by week.
  • Transit: some plants are used as light rail marshalling yards which allows once again more mutualisation and maximum number of 2 rail legs before the final delivery compound.

Almost 30 different axis have been identified with those rules. Consequently, it has become a necessity to have a good organization for the trains.
We jointly decided with our client to transfer the management of the factory compound to GEFCO in order to drive the load of the expected wagons on a day to daybasis.

Client benefits:

  • Economic benefits: a large cost optimisation for the client beginning from 2016
  • Leadtime benefits: 0.5 days in average for more than 600,000 new vehicles (perimeter involved in the scheme modification)
  • CO2 benefits: estimated at 17%, 10,000 tonnes/year, due to the changeover of volumes from the Road to the Rail

Discover the next AL Awards Europe stories with the project "My Car Is There offer, an easy & reliable car movement in few clicks!"