Magazine for ports, shipping and logistics

Flexible regional networks and crisis response

TFG Transfracht connects the D-A-CH region by transporting around 4,000 TEU of cargo environmentally friendly every day between six seaports – including Bremerhaven and Wilhelmshaven. The Deutsche Bahn subsidiary states that it has the densest train network in seaport hinterland services in Europe.


The train network responsible for meeting TFG Transfracht’s logistical demands is called AlbatrosExpress. It includes over 260 weekly departures and connects around 15,000 locations in the D-A-CH region, from large economic centres to small tranquil villages. “This network enables us to deliver the most diverse goods – from cat litter to drilling machines and winter coats – to their destination within 12–36 hours,” explained Philipp Best, who has been heading sales at TFG Transfracht since January 2021. The most important hub for high-frequency and flexible connections is the marshalling yard in Maschen. Located south of Hamburg, the facility is considered the largest marshalling yard in Europe and the second largest marshalling yard in the world after Bailey Yard in the US state of Nebraska. “All containers that we take in via the ports of Hamburg, Bremerhaven and Wilhelmshaven intersect in Maschen, where they are then distributed to different direct trains according to their destination,” explained Best.

AlbatrosExpress forwards cargo from Maschen further into the hinterland regions via a closely interlinked rail network. The route leads through various terminals, amongst other destinations, which are served by TFG Transfracht between 3–20 times a week. A total of 27 terminals are connected to the AlbatrosExpress network. “Our most frequent stop is the train station in Regensburg, which primarily serves as a hub for the automotive industry. That said, Frankfurt am Main, Erfurt, Stuttgart, Leipzig, Ulm and Dortmund are also key transport hubs for us in Germany,” said Best. In Austria, cargo flows are mainly concentrated in the Salzburg, Enns, Vienna, Graz and Wolfurt locations, whilst in Switzerland everything goes through the terminal in Basel. In this three-country intersect, with the addition of Italy, TFG Transfracht handles around 85 per cent of its activities via the AlbatrosExpress. The remaining 15 per cent is made up by company trains, which are implemented outside of the official timetable on an individual basis for customer requests and as tailor-made logistics solutions.



More similarities than differences

Reflecting on TFG’s activities in the D-A-CH region, the manager said: “There are far more parallels than differences between the three countries.” The package of services that are drawn up for customers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland is almost identical. That said, the Hamburg resident is sure to emphasise that adapting approaches based on country has now become an essential success factor: “The language and mentality are similar in all three countries, but not the same. For this reason, for our on-site divisions like sales and operations, we rely on employees who know the regional markets, speak the regional language and are therefore more targeted in responding to the needs of customers.”

Surpassing the 1 million TEU mark once again

Despite the current challenging situation in Europe and the D-A-CH region, Best is cautiously optimistic about the future: “If everything stays on track, we are likely to surpass the one million TEU mark for container transport again in 2022,” predicted the manager. At the same time, he describes the current situation as a “time of extremes,” which, in his view, will probably not be long term in nature. “We are not preparing for a lasting crisis, in fact, we have prepared ourselves for demand to potentially pick up again in 2023. I am certain that the D-A-CH region is strong enough to survive this temporary turbulence relatively well.”

Reflecting on the past two and a half years, he acknowledges that COVID-19, the war in Ukraine and the energy crisis have had a major impact on global supply chains and the hinterland regions. “Even in such times of crisis, rail transport remains dependable, meaning we can still operate our network. This makes us a reliable partner for our customers in terms of guaranteeing their supply security. We also took the pandemic as an opportunity and used the time to intensively develop new areas, for example, to drive the digitalisation of our internal processes forward,” explained Best. Now, the focus is on the company’s internal sustainability strategy, “TFGreen”, amongst other things. “With new capacities for 100 per cent CO2-free rail transport and climate-neutral road transport, we are creating real climate solutions. Because every container with combined transport not only relieves the burden on the road infrastructure but also on the environment,” the manager said, outlining the approach. (bre)

Jan-Dirk Schuisdziara, geschäftsführender Gesellschafter bei der Hansa Meyer Global Holding

“I am certain that the D-A-CH region is strong enough to survive this temporary turbulence relatively well.”

Philipp Best, Sales Director, TFG Transfracht


TFG Transfracht

Established: 1969
Headquarters: Mainz, Germany
Employees: 200
2021 Turnover: EUR 248 million
Container transport 2021: 998,000 TEU


Countries: Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy
Connected ports: Hamburg, Bremerhaven, Wilhelmshaven, Koper, Rotterdam and Antwerp
Departures: around 260 per week

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