Further growth for intermodal
IGS Intermodal recently expanded its railcar fleet with long, modern and payload- optimized 80-ft, four-axle railcars that were unloaded for the first time at CTR – Container Terminal Regenburg

Further growth for intermodal

As a second segment besides its forwarding, contract and storage logistics operations, IGS Logistics Group has built up a wide-ranging service portfolio.

For Hamburg-based logistics service provider IGS Logistics Group, its business rests on two main foundations, the logistics and intermodal sectors. Logistics covers its forwarding business for general cargoes along with LTL and FTL – less-than-full-load and full-load freight, and for general and temperature- controlled cargoes in Germany and Europe. In addition, logistic services are centred on warehousing, with state-of-the-art warehousing available at its Hamburg, Vienna and Warsaw facilities.

“Our intermodal area has developed from the road container transport that IGS has been operating for almost 50 years,” reports CEO Harald Rotter. “Apart from our train network, in this field we offer our customers single-source terminal, depot and trucking services.” IGS staff here daily control around 500 vehicles, as well as 470 container railcars, attending to shipments for sea freight forwarders and shipping companies.

“What started with the first container block train service 14 years ago has meanwhile grown into a comprehensive train network with a total of six terminal and depot facilities,” says Rotter. Among these are Nuremberg, Munich, Regensburg, Aschaffenburg, Schweinfurt and Heilbronn, along with the Hamburg, Bremerhaven and Rotterdam offices that direct operations.

Additional services include container cleaning/repair and – primarily – trucking along the first/last mile. That makes us one of the few companies independent of a large group that can offer this concept with all the additional services from one source,” stresses Rotter.

Intermodal between Hamburg and Cologne too

The hinterland infrastructure is of great importance strategically. After all, numerous industrial companies are located in Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and the Rhineland. “Hamburg’s superb rail infrastructure makes it especially important as a port,” emphasizes Rotter.

It is precisely this that IGS Intermodal goes for. With its partner CTS Köln, IGS has succeeded in establishing intermodal services on routes that have tended to favour trucking, between Hamburg and Cologne, for example.

“A high proportion of the cargo volume between German seaports and the Rhineland is actually transported by truck,” explains the CEO. Yet several factors speak for a shift to rail: “Owing to engineering works, bottlenecks are frequent on the A1. These will be aggravated for the next few years by the lack of the Rahmedetal Bridge on the A45.” Besides, there is a shortage of truck drivers. The increasingly unstable level of the Rhine as a result of climate change is also prompting many customers to search for alternatives.

A further aspect is that hazardous cargo from the chemical industry on the Rhine is predestined to be transported by rail, which apart from its environment- friendliness, primarily offers a distinctly lower risk of accidents. In addition, some water-polluting substances are not licenced for transport by inland- waterway craft. Rail is the ideal alternative there. “Along with CTS Container Terminal in Cologne, in 2019 we launched the first train, marketed by both companies. there are meanwhile three departures per week.

An additional reason for growing interest in intermodal transport on the part of sea freight forwarders and shipping companies results from shippers’ wish to efficiently combine economy and ecology. “Rail plays a major part in trade and industry,” realizes Rotter. This should grow still stronger: “Additional stimuluses for more intermodal transport will be the CO2 surcharge on the on the road toll from December and the next increase in CO2 tax,” anticipates the CEO, adding that: “Extensive outstanding renovation of corridors on the DB network will present a major challenge for the next few years.”

Further network development

Further development of its network, for instance by investments in building and operating terminals and empty container depots, will be absolutely essential for IGS. Some of the locations consist of intermediate centres not previously possessing a marketable intermodal link with the seaports, which IGS will efficiently incorporate in its network. “Schweinfurt and Heilbronn are examples,” explains Rotter.

“We are marketing the Schweinfurt location through CLS, a joint venture with our Translog partner. Meanwhile we are offering six weekly trains in each direction. It makes no sense economically or ecologically to initially shift cargo from Hamburg for the Schweinfurt industrial area by train to Nuremberg, just to return it back to Schweinfurt by truck,” explains Rotter, adding: “All the more so, since Nuremberg is in any case in heavy demand, and therefore currently being expanded.”

Further growth for intermodal
With its shuttle trains, IGS Intermodal regularly connects the seaports with the powerful economic regions in Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and the Rhineland
© SBB Cargo International AG, Olten, Schweiz
Customers will be offered several departures per day to German seaports from the enlarged CTR – Container Terminal Regensburg
© CTR Container Terminal Regenburg GmbH, Regensburg

Extension of the terminal in Regensburg was completed last year. “Our terminal in the Port of Regensburg had reached the limit of its capacity and we were already storing containers there on external plots,” reports Rotter. The regional car industry plus automotive suppliers create heavy demand. Demolition of old storage sheds, no longer required, then created an opportunity for expansion.

Our terminal capacity has grown by around 60 percent – and this on the existing area in the port,” says a delighted Rotter. During implementation, a special drainage system permitted handling and interim storage of containers containing water-polluting substances. Track capacity was also enlarged: four handling tracks have now replaced just two. A power-driven gantry crane is reinforcing reach stackers, of which two older ones have been replaced by new, low-noise and low-consumption handling equipment. “The new units are not just far more efficient but cause less CO2 emissions and noise,” says the CEO.

“With an expanded terminal in the Upper Palatinate region, we are more flexible and able to offer our customers a still better service,” says Rotter. Multimodal facilities also enable us to reposition empty containers from S.E. Europe, for example Hungary and Austria, by inland waterway craft for our customers.

Along with its partner Spedition Zippel, IGS has invested in 100 new 80-ft container railcars. “The first 50 have already been delivered.” Yet that will not be all: “We believe in the growth of intermodal transport,” stresses Rotter. 220, 000 TEU were shifted on the network in 2022. “Due to the economic situation, 2023 will turn out to be somewhat weaker. Yet we think and plan for the long term, and will accordingly be continuing to invest wherever that makes sense for us.“


With ‘Intermodal’ and ‘Logistics’ Hamburg-based family company founded in 1950 is based on two complementary business areas. In the intermodal sector, it offers intermodal rail, inland waterway shipping and road services. Currently with around 600 staff, the company operates its own train network, an EDP subsidiary and container terminals along with depots: CDN in Nuremberg, CTR in Regensburg, CLM in Munich, TCA in Aschaffenburg, CLS in Schweinfurt and KTHN in Heilbronn. IGS offers container repair and trucking in addition. Logistics activities include the forwarding business and logistics services centred on warehouse logistics.