Trucks lose cargo to trains

Tons of powdered milk, condensed milk and milk candy (dulce de leche) manufactured in Minas Gerais is no longer circulating on highways connecting Minas Gerais with São Paulo, Goiás and Bahia. The Cooperativa Central de Produtores Rurais – Itambé decided to use railroad transportation to ship nearly 2,500 tons of these products each month from production facilities in the state, delivering them to clients at a price that is 10% less expensive than road delivery, and win a very low risk of theft, hijackings or damage. Many well-known consumer brands are now using this route to deliver products to distributors, following large companies such as Nestlé, Unilever, Ford and Semp Toshiba, giving preference to freight trains operated by private railroads in the country.

In this dispute, in 2006 the railroads hauled 222,000 tons of what they called general freight — from foodstuffs through to computers, refrigerators, home ranges, sound systems, powdered soap and detergents — representing an 11.4% gain compared to 2005, according to a preliminary survey by the National Railroad Transportation Association (ANTF). Traditional products carried by the railroad — iron ore and steel — were hauled in large volumes last year, although at a more modest pace of growth, of 7.5%.

Rodrigo Vilaça, executive director of the institution, said that the explanation for the good results obtained by the railroad system operators was not only because of increased efficiencies. They prepared themselves to directly take over the collection of the freight, including hiring trucks when necessary to deliver merchandise to distribution centers or to end customers. “Depending upon the product and the distance involved, transportation savings can be 12% to 15%. We still have plenty of room for growth in this area,” he said.

The Express Train operated by the Ferrovia Centro-Atlântica, a Companhia Vale do Rio Doce company, increased its transportation of foodstuffs, auto parts, tires, plastic, resins, hygiene and cleaning products and home appliance by 166% from 2002 to 2005. The service is carried out door to bore, organizing the freight into containers and including truck deliveries of merchandise to wholesalers or ports, when destined for export, according to Rômulo Otoni, FCA’s general manager of inter-modal trade. “When we negotiate the service, there also is concern regarding the price of the products on supermarket shelves. For example, if Nestlé loses competitiveness, we lose a clients,” he explained.

Railroad transportation has benefited from the implementation of highway tolls. The railroads have infrastructure for storing products in transit and they themselves handle the export paperwork. MRS Logística, which holds the concession for the southeast network of the former Rede Ferroviária Federal, obtained 30% of its revenues in 2005 in the general cargo segment and wants to grow at a 10% annual clip over the next five years, revealed Valter Luis de Souza, the company’s sales manager. “We began assume the responsibility of delivering the merchandise. If the railroad does not meet deadlines, the customer puts the cargo onto truck and we have to pay the difference,” he said.

Higher expenses reduces road freight share

Trucks have been losing ground to trains since 2000, when the former had a 60.5% share of all freight transportation in the country while railroads held 20.8%. according to information from the National Land Transportation Agency (ANTT), in 2005, the period with the most up-to-date statistics, highway transportation was responsible for 58% and freight trains distributed one-quarter of the total. All told, 389 million tons were carried on the railroad network using 90,119 freight cars. According to Valter Luiz de Souza, sales director or FCA, what best portrays the advance of the railroads regarding freight hauling is the pace of movement of merchandise, well above the growth of

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Fonte: Estado de Minas

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