The logistics industry is looking for ways to further reduce its CO2 emissions to protect the climate. DPD is now also exploring the possibility of transporting its parcels by rail.

After Deutsche Post DHL, competitor DPD is now also sending some of its parcels across Germany by rail.

The company started a project on Tuesday night in which packages are transported on freight trains between Hamburg and Duisburg. The transported quantity is initially small, in the trains are only two containers from DPD, the other containers – called “swap bridges” – are from other companies. In three months, however, DPD wants to expand the project and add more routes. By the end of 2023, five percent of national DPD freight traffic should go by rail.

In view of the growing volume of parcels in online trade, the entire logistics industry is looking for ways to reduce its CO2 emissions and keep the traffic load as low as possible. Long scorned by the industry, rail is now gaining in importance as a mode of transport, as the DPD example shows.

Another step for climate protection

DPD sees the project as a further step in terms of climate protection. The company, which belongs to the French Post Office, also uses electric vehicles for delivery in order to be responsible for as little air pollution as possible. With the freight trains, DPD is now focusing on the “main leg” – i.e. the distance that is actually covered by trucks on the motorway. These trucks all still have an internal combustion engine, so the CO2 balance is bad on this part of the parcel route.

According to the service provider Kombiverkehr, which arranges freight train capacities for Deutsche Bahn, the CO2 emissions when transporting a container in the DPD project are more than 80 percent lower than when transporting by truck. The freight trains use electricity that not only comes from renewable sources, but also from coal production.

Deutsche Post DHL already increased its pace in rail transport in 2021. Over the course of the year, the share of freight train parcels in the total DHL volume rose from two to six percent. In the future, DHL wants to get 20 percent. The market leader is dealing with very different quantities than DPD, because the Bonn-based group uses entire trains and not just a few containers. Roughly speaking, a freight train has 70 containers. According to Deutsche Post, between 50 and 70 freight trains transport DHL packages domestically on several routes every week, for example from Großbeeren near Berlin to Dortmund.