Railrunner Europe GmbH has filed for insolvency with the Hamburg District Court and Susanne Riedemann of law firm Prof Dr Pannen Rechtsanwälte has been appointed as liquidator
Managing Director Gerhard Oswald has resigned and Charles Foskett, CEO of American parent company RailRunner NA, Inc, of Lincoln (MA) has taken over.
Foskett said that Railrunner Europe had made enormous strides in the last 18 months and he hopes that the restructured company can reintroduce the Braunschweig-Bratislava service, RailRunner Europe’s only service to date, in the near future.
As previously discussed this is a classic lo-lo intermodal service catering for piggyback trailers, containers and swap bodies on pocket wagons and was aimed eventually at converting the service to Railrunner’s bimodal trailer technology. Certainly in terms of topography and distance, the route is suitable, but given the chequered past of bimodal trailers in Europe, it was never going to be easy.
Railrunner Europe said that several factors have conspired against it. Its trailers spend too much time at cargo loading and discharge points, so turnaround times were too long and pushed up costs. Customers asked for long term payment terms and for much of the time since the service was introduced in 2017 the underlying rail service was affected by infrastructure works on the line of route. Finally weather conditions of late made it very difficult to provide a safe and reliable service.
The insolvency came as a surprise for most of Railrunner’s partners. Jens Hohls, Managing Director of Hafenbetriebsgesellschaft Braunschweig (Port of Brunswick), said he thought the company would be introducing additional services.
The American parent company is not happy about its engagement in Europe. It has already invested a double million digit US$ amount, the permitting procedures from the European Rail Agency have still not been completed, which means that investments in bimodal trailers and rail bogies still have to be made.