“Every special transport is different”

26. 01. 2024

When it comes to special transports for unusual goods, the Rail Cargo Group’s (RCG) experts can provide an innovative and suitable logistics and transport solution for every requirement – as was the case for the recent transport of the “Glögglwaggon” – an art project in Bad Ischl. RCG employee Werner Böhmer talks about the unique aspects of special transports in the world of logistics.

It is not just raw materials, cars, timber, steel, agricultural and chemical products that are transported by rail – no, special 30-tonne cranes, 120 metre long rails, entire Metro train sets, huge steam boilers and even turbines can be transported from A to B by rail. Even bells being used as part of an art project – such as the “Glögglwaggon”, which marked the start of the 2024 Capital of Culture year in Bad Ischl at the weekend. Werner Böhmer has been with ÖBB for 38 years and is a veritable expert in special transports at the RCG, where he will soon be celebrating his 25th anniversary in sales. He discovered his fascination for special transports right at the beginning of his professional career.

Werner, last week there was a very special project that you were involved in, the “Glögglwaggon”, which was unusual even for a professional in special transports like yourself. Can you tell us about that?

The “Glögglwaggon” is a project that was designed to ring in the 2024 Capital of Culture year in Bad Ischl in the most literal sense of the word. It is a sound sculpture on rails comprising more than 40 bells. The apprentices at ÖBB-Infrastruktur created a special support structure. When the train moves, the characteristic Salzkammergut paddles tilt and release a valve, causing all the bells to ring. We handled the transport of this special contraption. The train travelled from Attnang-Puchheim to Stainach-Irding. It consisted of three passenger carriages provided by ÖBB’s passenger division and the “Glögglwaggon” at the end of the train. The last wagon was also fitted with special lighting and accompanied by camera teams. When we passed close to churches, they also rang their balls – almost 25 of them did so. It really was an experience to be a part of it. In addition to Federal Minister Leonore Gewessler, ÖBB’s Infrastructure Director Silvia Angelo, 23 mayors and the apprentices who built the structure were also invited so that they could share in the success of their construction.

What made this transport special for you?

For one thing, the project itself is very special. For another, it was a group-wide project organised by ÖBB. Around 20 colleagues from across all of our subsidiaries took part. I would particularly like to emphasize ÖBB Infrastruktur, which designed the timetable and built the equipment with its apprentices and trainers from the Linz training workshop. Thanks must of course also go to the Passenger Division, which transported the invited guests, and to RCG, which handled the transport – everyone is crucial to the success of such a project. It was great to see that everyone involved in #TeamÖBB really pulled together. This is one of the reasons why I enjoy my job so much.

Can you tell us a bit about how you joined the RCG?

I started out in Internal Sales in 1999. Just one year later I was already working in the field and since then I’ve mainly been involved in special transports. I have learnt a lot over the years and have continued to develop my skills. Even after almost 25 years, my work still fascinates me, because every special transport is different and that’s what makes it special.

When does a special transport actually become a special transport?

Anything that is longer, wider, taller or heavier than “normal” goods and that exceeds the usual profile is essentially a special transport. It is particularly important in such cases that we have all the technical data from our customers right from the start so that we can obtain a transport licence.

Is there one project you’ve worked on that you would call your favourite?

My absolute favourite project was the Melbourne Metro Transport Project in 2006. We shipped 240 metro carriages that were built in Vienna to Melbourne via Bremerhaven. We handled the transport all the way to Bremerhaven and that was quite a challenge. Unlike here, trains in Australia run on broad gauge tracks. This meant that a creative solution was needed urgently and then we had a brilliant idea: we piggy-backed the metro carriages on our trains, in a manner of speaking. We needed two two-axle goods wagons for each metro carriage. They had a recess into which we had placed a track bed. This allowed us to secure and transport the sets on our trains. The transport went really well – it was great fun.

Are you interested in special transports? Write to us at automotive@railcargo.com and our experts in special transports will get back to you as soon as possible!