VW Group rail link makes vehicle logistics more sustainable in Spain

Automotive Industry

Source: Automotive Logistics, 2021-11-26

Seat will begin weekly operations of its new rail service linking its plant in Martorell, Spain with the Volkswagen Autoeuropa factory in Palmela, Portugal in November 2021.

The new rail link is expected to transport more than 20,000 vehicles per year, avoiding 2,400 truck journeys and reducing CO2 emissions by 43%, helping the Spanish carmaker and wider Volkswagen Group reach its net zero targets.  

“This project is part of the ‘One Production’ strategy of Volkswagen Group factories on the Iberian Peninsula, which seeks to optimise resources, generate synergies between production centres and boost efficiency,” said Herbert Steiner, Vice-President for Production and Logistics at Seat.  

The new service, operated by Pecovasa Renfe Mercancías, comprises 16 wagons, has a maximum length of 500 metres, and will be capable of transporting up to 184 vehicles per journey. Two additional carriages are planned to be introduced from 2021 that will be 550 metres in length, allowing up to 200 carriages to be transported.  

Vehicles produced in Martorell were previously transported by train to Salobral, in Madrid, and then delivered by lorry to the various dealerships. The new line will ensure that vehicles arrive directly at the Palmela factory before being transported by lorry to the distribution depot in Azambuja, 75km away.  

Vehicles manufactured in Palmela will then be taken to the port of Barcelona, where they will be distributed by road to different regions of Spain, the south of France and transported by ship to destinations across the Mediterranean market.  

The leading cause of reduced CO2 output in the process comes from eliminating 2,400 road journeys, which will axe nearly 1,000 t of carbon emissions. Seat plans to achieve emission neutrality by 2040 after the railways introduce hybrid locomotives that will completely electrify the route.  

This new route is an addition to the Autometro rail service, which links the Martorell plant with the port of Barcelona for vehicle exports. Seat exports over 80% of the cars produced in Martorell, and the rail transport service means around 25,000 trucks have been eliminated annually from the route from Martorell to the port of Barcelona.  

Thanks to double-decker articulated transport wagons, with a total capacity for 170 vehicles and a length of 411 metres, the route has transported nearly 1.3m units. It has lowered road traffic by more than 300,000 lorry journeys since it began operations in 2008.  

The new rail service is part of Seat’s “Move to Zero” project, aiming to achieve emission neutrality in all its production processes, including logistics. The Volkswagen Group, of which Seat is a member, has a global corporate mission to reduce the environmental impact of all products and mobility solutions. 


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