Economic efficiency

Cost consideration truck shuttle

The realization of the truck shuttle concept will certainly be very demanding. However, it only makes sense if the concept also proves to be economically viable, as shown below. The cost analysis is therefore based on the assumed route grid in the area of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Individual routes:

N/S route 1 (Bremen-Basel) approx. 750 km
N/S route 2 (Flensburg-Singen) approx. 900 km
N/S route 3 (Schwerin-Garmisch) approx. 800 km
N/S route 4 (Rostock-Dresden) approx. 400 km
O/W Trasse 1 (Stettin-Emden) approx. 550 km
O/W Trasse 2 (Frankfurt Oder-Duisburg) approx. 600 km
O/W Trasse 3 (Bautzen-Saarbrücken) approx. 650 km
O/W Trasse 4 (Passau-Karlsruhe) approx. 450 km


For this purpose, it must be possible to clearly demonstrate the benefit that results for the main stakeholders. The values that are used as output variables in the consideration are:
⦁ Values taken directly from a source on the Internet
⦁ Values determined indirectly from various sources
⦁ Values set as initial variables
⦁ Values resulting from the envisaged route grid
Of course, these values are not incontrovertible and must necessarily be researched and verified again by qualified persons before realization. However, they should suffice to provide an initial overview.

Revenue calculation

Freight forwarders are subject to enormous cost pressure. For this reason, they will only accept a truck shuttle offer if the benefit is clearly recognizable to them. Roughly speaking, they will make sure that the transport kilometer does not become more expensive through the use of a truck shuttle than the normally driven truck kilometer. For this purpose, it is first of all important to determine the average cost of a transport kilometer truck. For this purpose, the resulting average values of the following min./max. assumptions are used.

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So, if truck shuttle transport costs no more than €1.52 per km on average, the other advantages, such as higher utilization, better planning, extended utilization times (Sundays and public holidays, ) and greater reliability, should lead to significant acceptance of the new service on the part of freight forwarders.

For the potential operator, it is now necessary to determine whether efficient operation can be realized at all on the basis of the above-mentioned price per kilometer of €1.52. This is based on the values of the route grid for a rough calculation of revenues. For this purpose, the values of the route grid are used as a basis for a rough calculation of revenues. In order to determine the expected revenues, the following general specifications are assumed for the further calculations:

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It is also assumed for the calculation that trains run at hourly intervals on all routes of the route grid in both directions 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

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Thus, for a total distance of 5,100 km at an average speed of 100 km/h, there is initially a demand for 102 trains with 2550 transport wagons.
In 24-hour operation, all the trains together achieve a wagon kilometer capacity of 6,120,000 km per day. These must now be sold at the price per kilometer of €1.52 calculated above. However, it cannot be assumed that the trains are always fully utilized. For this reason, the resulting daily revenues were divided into percentage levels (40%, 60%, 80%, 100%).

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The achievable daily revenues are between € 3.7 million and € 9.3 million under the assumed conditions, depending on capacity utilization. Transferred to a full calendar year, this results in the following potential annual revenues per percentage level and train path (in € million):

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On the basis of the model calculation, the total revenue that can be generated in a year thus amounts to between EUR 1.3 billion and EUR 3.4 billion, depending on capacity utilization.

Expense calculation

Significant overall expenses will be incurred to implement the Truck Shuttle concept. In addition, the operation of the Truck Shuttle will require ongoing costs in all areas.


The investments to be made relate to the 4 thematic areas:

⦁ Infrastructure
⦁ Rolling stock
⦁ Operating system
⦁ Costs for implementation project

The estimated values for this are particularly difficult to verify and must be checked by experts in the respective trades. The individual values used for the calculation are shown in the white boxes. The individual values of the infrastructure and rolling stock are then multiplied by the number per unit resulting from the assumed route grid. The costs for the necessary operating system and the project costs for implementation were estimated as a total amount.

The following table shows the identified, potential total investments.

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An investment of more than €8.4 billion would therefore have to be made to carry out the transport on the assumed route grid. Based on a depreciation period of 20 years, this investment would have a 5% impact on annual expenditure. A more precise calculation must take into account that the depreciation period for stations and lines is certainly much longer than 20 years and that the annual burden of depreciation will therefore be significantly reduced.

Operating costs

The expected current operating costs are divided into the 5 subject areas:
⦁ Personnel costs
⦁ Ancillary station costs
⦁ Energy demand
⦁ Maintenance/service
⦁ Track costs
Personnel costs will occur in the areas of station, train operation and operational control. With an assumed 24h/365Tg operation, it is mandatory to assume a 4-shift operation.

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The resulting total personnel requirement is therefore approx. 2,500 employees and, based on an average annual wage per employee of 50 k€, would amount to approx. 125 million per year.

The expected ancillary costs stations are very much dependent on the structural design. The variance ranges from an open area with a small administration building to a hall that can accommodate a complete train. Therefore, only average values can be assumed, which require a concrete revision according to a defined design.

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On the basis of the individual ancillary cost values assumed above for each station, a total amount of around €4.5 million per year can therefore be expected for ancillary costs.

In order to estimate the costs that will arise from the energy requirements of the assumed truck shuttle constellation, the weight to be transported must first be determined.

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In the above table, therefore, the tare weight of the train is shown first. Since the payload is in the form of complete trucks, which may have a total weight of up to 44 t, but are certainly not always fully loaded, an average filling weight of 80% is assumed.

However, since not every truck is loaded at all, it is also assumed that 30% are empty runs. This results in an average train weight of approx. 1,200 t. From the Internet, it can be seen that an energy of 14 Wh is required for the rail transport of one ton over one kilometer.

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If the calculated train weight is taken as a basis, approx. 16.58 kWh must be used for transport over one kilometer. As already shown, in the assumed route grid scenario, approx. 250,000 train km are covered daily, which requires a daily energy demand of 4,057,805 kWh.

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Assuming that DB, as a major electricity customer, has to pay approx. 5.5 cents for one kWh, the annual energy costs for the concept described here amount to slightly more than €81.5 million.

The costs for maintenance and service cannot be determined on the basis of individual values at such an early stage. Therefore, percentage shares of the investment costs already presented in the previous chapter were used.

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DB-Netze charges a fee for the use of its own train paths, which is linked to various criteria depending on the train kilometers run. In view of the fact that the trains are long-distance services (F1 €3.53 per train kilometer) and that high speeds are aimed for (ETG €1.65 per train kilometer), the daily costs calculated for the routes in question are around €1.25 million and the annual costs around €400 million.

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In total, therefore, annual operating costs of around €760 million can be expected in the assumed scenario using the assumed initial values.

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On balance, annual expenditures of around EUR 1.3 billion can therefore be expected:

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Annual balance

If we now compare the calculated revenues and expenses, the following situation arises on the basis of the assumed values and the assumed route grid for the operation of a truck shuttle:

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On the basis of the assumptions made, it can therefore be expected that the profit zone can be reached at utilization rates above 40% and that the profit margin would already be 30% at a utilization rate of 60%.


It should be emphasized once again that the Truck Shuttle concept is not in competition with the already established transport providers. It deliberately does not intervene in the decision as to which products are transported and how. It only offers the transporters an at least cost-neutral alternative to the use of the highway for truck transport.
For the operator, this opens up a completely new business segment alongside passenger transport and normal freight transport, with customers that were previously out of reach and where there are no competitors with a comparable offering.