SEPTEMBER 1 will see the start of IKEA Rail AB’s first open-access freight services between Sweden and Germany, following the signing of the necessary track access contracts on June 29. The Swedish-based furniture supplier decided earlier this year to form its own rail division, which is headed by the former Freight Director of Swedish State Railways Christer Beijbom.

At present around 18% of IKEA’s traffic moves by rail, but the company plans to increase this proportion to 40% within 10 years. This will cut its distribution costs, lifting rail volumes from 20 to 80 million m3 a year. IKEA plans to launch its own network of up to 200 trains/week across Europe, and will invest SKr1·5bn in its rail subsidiary during 2001-05.

Beijbom plans to develop the IKEA Rail operations around a hub at Duisburg in Germany, with four trunk routes running to Sweden, Poland, Italy and the Benelux region. The track access accord signed in Ödåkra by Banverket, Banestyrelsen and DB Netz AG gives IKEA Rail AB paths on the ScanWays+ freight freeway between ??mhult, København, Hamburg and Duisburg. IKEA Rail is not planning to acquire its own rolling stock or crews, but will sub-contract the actual train operations.