HPC Assessed Efficiency and Development at Budapest's Rail Cargo Group Terminal BILK

Port and logistics infrastructure specialist Hamburg Port Consulting (HPC) has put forward operational development design plans for the BILK intermodal terminal in Budapest.

The Budapesti Intermodális Logisztikai Központ (BILK) had a throughput of 230,000 TEU last year and is one of Hungary's biggest intermodal logistics hubs. With cargo handling capacity almost reached and adjacent land for expansion unavailable, HPC’s task was to answer the question “What is possible?” to increase the terminal’s capacity and strengthen its position in the network. This includes storage size, shunting performance, equipment utilization, and possibly a shift in the mix of cargo unit types – containers, trailers, and swap bodies. 

At Europe’s heart, Budapest offers a prime location as a central logistics hub connecting the transcontinental and maritime traffic flows to Western and Eastern Europe. BILK is one of the main hubs of Rail Cargo Group for intermodal traffic with regular connections to European ports such as Hamburg, Bremerhaven, Koper, Piräus, Rijeka, and rail terminals in Neuss, Wels, Wien, and Brno, among others. The terminal currently handles mainly maritime containers, for which it was initially designed, but the demand for handling trailers and other continental traffic is significantly increasing. 

"In asking HPC to carry out this work, we wish to take further advantage of Budapest terminal's unique location. We have realized the changing demands of our customers and are actively working on solutions together with our partners," explains Attila Czöndör, CEO of BILK. “We manage maritime, continental and Eurasian traffic at the same time at the terminal and want to ensure that all of this traffic, with its different characteristics, can be handled flexibly, yet punctually and reliably.” 

As a consequence, HPC’s detailed assessment involved considerations of a wide range of options, including a study of current terminal capacity (tracks, lift, yard, gate) and a sensitivity analysis of comprehensive planning parameters such as a reduction in unit dwell times and train turnarounds as well as changes in modal unit volume splits and traffic types. Also, the effects of faster gate procedures and a reduction of gate peaks through the use of technology solutions such as pre-announcement, optical character recognition (OCR) and self-check-in have been studied.

Particular emphasis has been placed on safety issues. Significant increases in annual volumes will put undoubted stress on current operational processes with a consequent negative effect on work safety due to limited space availability and crossing traffics if no major changes in operational procedures are considered. 

Frank Busse, Associate Partner and Business Development Manager Europe at HPC comments, “We see a real need to optimally adapt terminals, BILK among them, to the changing requirements of the railway companies. Growing traffic from the Eurasian region and higher proportions of non-stackable cargo in the continental traffic are leading to new challenges to which the terminal layout and processes must adapt in order to offer competitive services in the long term."