Single wagon transport

30. 08. 2023

Do you know what single wagon transport is and what role it plays in Austria?

Why they are critical for success in terms of the market share of rail and what challenges they face - all this will be revealed in the following article.

Ganzzugverkehr mit Autos Einzelwagenverkehr

Whilst in block train transport one whole freight train travels unmodified and directly from the sender to the recipient, the system of single wagon transport is much more complex.


In single wagonload traffic, individual wagons or groups of wagons from different consignors are bundled together to form one train.  These individual wagons are loaded at the loading station, transported to a collection point, bundled in a freight train, transported from the starting point to the destination and distributed at the arrival station.

The system contains several interfaces and thus more complex processes than block train traffic.

Single wagon transport is characterised above all by its flexible planning and individual booking - in terms of quantity, time and relation. This makes it possible to transport goods at short notice and to connect economic centres throughout Europe and far beyond to Asia.

The importance of single wagon transport

Single wagon transports account for almost half of the modal share in Austria and are therefore critical for the success of rail's market share. Compared to other European countries, the Rail Cargo Group has a very high service density with more than 400 handling points in Austria and 350 in Hungary. Around two million journeys are handled annually with single wagonload transports.

This unique selling proposition of the Rail Cargo Group thus significantly supports not only the national but also the international use of rail freight transport. Efficient single wagonload transports form the backbone of the Austrian manufacturing industry, from which important branches of industry and regional customers in Austria benefit significantly.

Challenges of single wagon transport

Single wagonload transports are not only essential for the domestic industry and the supply of the Austrian and Hungarian economy - they also contribute significantly to climate protection by shifting traffic from road to rail. However, single wagonload transport is subject to several systemic disadvantages compared to road transport, such as the infrastructure user charge, i.e. a kind of rail toll, or the energy levy, despite the use of green traction current. In the course of competitiveness it is therefore necessary that it is as easy to drive a train through Europe as it is to drive a truck. 


Together with six European rail freight companies, the Rail Cargo Group has joined forces to form the Xrail initiative with the aim of guaranteeing a stable long-term perspective for European single wagonload traffic.

In terms of customer friendliness, efficiency and competitiveness, the aim is to optimise the European standard for sustainable single wagonload traffic and to create an awareness for single wagonload traffic.

This not only serves the domestic industry and climate protection, but is also the basis for growth on the railways in Europe.

2023: Full implementation of the Xrail Capacity Broker

The Xrail Capacity Broker (XCB) represents a cross-company interface between the members that sends booking and transport-related messages to or from the various alliance partners. 

After starting the rollout in 2018, all Xrail partners have successfully linked their capacity management systems via the XCB since this year. As of now, around 600,000 transports are booked annually across the entire network and processed and executed after capacity checks.

Improved capacity utilisation

This results in advantages in international wagonload traffic, both for RCG and indirectly for our customers: The close cooperation of the alliance partners creates an extensive network that enables continuous international transport plans and routes and leads to improved utilisation of freight wagons. 

Based on the current booking situation and the network status of the railways involved in the transport, the time of receipt of the goods can be determined and updated if necessary.

Reacting to changes at an early stage

In addition, the system allows track & trace and wagon status information to be provided and delivers early information on collapsing volumes to the respective local capacity booking system of the partners. Therefore, it is possible for railways to react to transport plan changes of their partners at an early stage and still ensure smooth transport.

In the future, further innovations and optimisations, such as cross-border production concepts and standards as well as the development of further joint IT solutions, will be pushed in order to be able to offer even more attractive and efficient international wagonload transport in the long term.