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European Rail Shuttle run by VSA partners and the Dutch national railway shows there is a way through the bureaucracy of Europe's rail system, and also a way to cooperate on intermodal rate-making. It's the kind of carrier cooperation that brings a smile of approval to the faces of the European Commission's antitrust and transport regulators.
At a time when Europe's shippers, carriers and regulators are locked in a triangular debate over what carriers can and cannot do together, one multi-carrier venture seems to be making all sides pretty happy.
The European Rail Shuttle (ERS), equally shared by four carriers (three ocean, one rail), demonstrated its popularity in November by announcing it would launch a second service after less than a year of operation.
Nedlloyd Lines, P&O Containers, Sea-Land Service and Holland Rail Container, a subsidiary of the Dutch national railway, inaugurated ERS on Jan. 18, 1994 with a thrice-weekly container service linking the Dutch port of Rotterdam with Milan, Italy. By the end of this year, the frequency to Milan will have doubled to six trains per week.
The second service, connecting Rotterdam to Germersheim, Germany (a hub depot near Mannhein along the Rhine) will start with three runs a week.
It's the kind of carrier cooperation that brings a smile of …