Business Segment Analysis and Strategic Positioning in Rail Freight Transport

Initially, the market liberalisation in various European countries has triggered a euphoria in rail freight transport that has spawned numerous new entrants as competitors to the national railways. But the fact that only parts of the rail freight market can actually be served by smaller private railways has lead to a lively competition between numerous operators, especially in trainload operations. Against the backdrop of economic crisis, the competitive pressure has again exacerbated, which is reflected in a noticeable pressure on margins.

Role and opportunities for private freight operators in Europe

BSL Transportation carried out a consulting project for a private European freight operator that aimed at optimising the orientation of its business activities. The first step of the project comprised primarily the analysis of the individual business segments, the determining of the economic situation and the development of individual activities, a SWOT analysis as well as concrete optimisation approaches and a recommendation for the future positioning of the business segments.

As part of the reorientation, various options for a strategic thrust were analysed and assessed, taking into account the latest developments in the European freight market. These options had to consider

  • the regional focus in Europe,
  • existing customer structures,
  • current and potential business segments, and
  • the commodity classes that might be interesting in the future.

Assessment of strategic alliances

As individual submarkets in Europe are yet not covered and a possible complement to the service portfolio might be useful, various opportunities for cooperation were examined on the basis of and with specific companies in the freight transport sector.

Not only this specific project, but also customer requirements and the steadily growing transport operations show, that the building and development of strategic partnerships will be a central element for the corporate development both of private and of national railways.

19. February 2016