Interview with Peter Kiss, the CEO at Metrans Group 14/02/24

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Interview with Peter Kiss, the CEO at Metrans Group



Mr Kiss joined Metrans in 1999. Under his command, the company re-started intermodal transport in Slovakia and also Hungary as a further step.  At 2022, he became the CEO of the Slovakian branch of Metrans. Now there are 17 terminals working in the network.



How does your company differentiate its market strategy compared to competitors in the industry?

If I were to sum it up in two words, it would be “be neutral”… but we can say it also with few more words. Be open to the customers demands. The strategy of METRANS was always the ability to carry out the majority of the transport chain with own resources, or based on the own system. The “all inclusive” principle. This not only applies to the transportation part itself, but everything that comes with it such as depot services, maintenance and repairs, customs formalities etc. Another important factor is the introduction of new services and opportunities for our customer each year. For the past years our strategy was to introduce at least one new product within the METRANS Group a year. As an example, in 2019 it was terminal TIP Žilina Slovakia and Berlin Germany, in 2020 it was terminal Gernsheim Germany, in 2021 terminal AFLUENT Romania, in 2022 terminal Malaszewicze Poland and 2023 Indija Serbia. And with new terminals come hand in hand new regular train connections. We ned to go in the direction of investments and expansion of the services offered, in order to provide our customers with innovations and an expanded portfolio of services every year. Because rail is the future.


The pressure of the EU towards decarbonisation is starting to be more and more obvious. Can you already feel the transit of your customers towards rail freight or combined transport? When do you expect this is going to show and how fast do you think it will be progressing, given the obstacles on the „road“?

Unfortunately, we have to say that the railways are not “enough sexy”. In respect of the attention given by the politics. And we do not understand why, what happened. OK, there will be always markets which will rely on the road solution… the combined traffic also needs the road. This should be the focus. Rail and road are not enemies, like some players are presenting it. We should cooperate. And this is what METRANS doing… combining… and this should be definitely “sexy” also for the politics and also for the EU.

Rail is the green alternative. And we have it already. OK, we have forgotten to maintain it and invest, but we have a chance to finally understand what do we have in the rail solution. Compare the neutrality on CO2, when you compare road and rail. Rail is 60 – 70% less. Sometimes maybe more? The decarbonisation has been a point of discussion in any of the events we as METRANS  have been to for the past years attending and this will only get more and more intense. Hopefully. What unfortunately does not work in favour is the insufficient state support in the railway transport segment, and the investment debt that concerns the railway infrastructure not only in Slovakia. In order for us to be able to compete with road freight transport at all, high-quality and passable railway lines must be available. Historically, road freight transport has been associated with the concept of “faster and more accurate” than rail transport. And this is an imaginary gap that we have to catch up.


Can you share insights on the investments your company is making in technology to enhance and optimise the logistics operations?

With expanding services and adding more and more train connections to our portfolio, comes also another part of investment which is the equipment. The wagons and the locomotives are a really good example of this. While in 2019 we had 80 locomotives and 3000 wagons at our disposal, as of today more than 3700 wagons and 130 locomotives. We are also proud to have participated on the development of improved container wagons, which are lighter and thus more environmentally friendly. Our locomotives are, of course, another part of investment package through which we try to rejuvenate and modernize our fleet every year. Last but not least, the portal cranes are another topic worth mentioning. Recently we have completed the construction of a fourth portal crane in Dunajská Streda, a fourth one in Budapest and a third one in Ceska Trebova. Portal cranes, running on electricity, compared to reach stackers running on diesel fuel are another instrument of sustainability and the ability to keep the prices on a reasonable level as our customers are used to. And this should be the future.

How is METRANS progressing towards achieving the climate-neutrality goal?

I would say “the pace” is really good. METRANS aims to be completely climate neutral by 2040. In 2020, we have successfully launched a project called HHLA Pure, a TÜV Nord certified programme which guarantees CO2 neutral rail transport and handling.  In the first phase we have offered this solution for our trains from and to Hamburg, in the second we added Bremerhaven and Koper and as of September 2023 we’ve also added Wilhelmshaven, Gdansk, Rotterdam, Trieste, Rijeka and inland terminal Duisburg. In Germany and Austria our trains do run with the “green traction energy”.You may ask of course, how is it possible to transport CO2 free if you are running diesel locomotives. The answer is rather simple, even if the processes behind not so much. As the atmosphere has no borders, it makes no difference where in the world the CO2 is produced. With this in mind, we compensate the necessary CO2 we produce by investing in other, gold standard, environmental projects, which help reduce the CO2. Every single kilogram of produces CO2 is being fully offset, thus making the rail transport on these lines with METRANS carbon neutral. In 2022, almost one million TEU has been transported carbon neutral.  But the goal is to achieve the consumption of all the energy from renewable sources. For our future.


What specific measures or initiatives has your company implemented to ensure a speedy flow of goods throughout the logistics process on the operational level in the past year?

If we’re speaking about system or software solutions, my favourite example for this would be our Information System, the MIS. It’s a system that has been developed from zero to a complex multiplatform system which enables our colleagues, regardless whether their work is connected to the terminal or a purely administrative, to access complete information about a container including its routing, past, current and future movements and status. This enables a smooth communication flow even without emails or phone calls. But most importantly it allows to preplan every part of the transport, be it rail or road transport and of course the ability to immediately react to any change that might occur during the transport. One can simply access this information with a click of a button; thus, our customers too have immediate access to any information they might need through our customer services department.


In terms of multimodal collaboration, where does your company see areas of improvement or potential solutions that need to be taken as soon as possible, both locally (CE) and regionally (EU)?

The states and EU has to understand the rail. As a transport mode that should be prioritised and has to be “harmonized” in the costs and also regulations with the road. The harmonisation s something that – until now – has been missed completely, unfortunately. Today EU is working on new regulations, new combined transport directive, new weight and measures regulations. Can you imagine that the road would have even higher weight limits and longer trucks and trailers? Hm, this should not be our future. We should motivate the cargo to get on the rail track… and not to think about more weight and more volume on the road. This is unfortunately the problem, that the voice of the rail is so “quiet”. And that´s why we have to make it happen, together. Because when you make a plan to make train project, you need one year “works”. When you have the rail cars, the locomotive, the driver, the licence, the, the, the… hm, when you have a truck and driver, you drive. Today, tomorrow. That´s the difference. And this needs to be changed. Again we are urging for harmonization. In the costs, but also in the regulations.


Can you share an example of a game-changing application of AI your company adopted recently? How did it transform the process or operation, and what were the key benefits it brought to the organization?

AI is, next to CO2 and digitalization, another topic one will come across almost on a daily basis. It’s a field of technology whose fruits logistics has not yet reaped, but it will come soon and maybe sooner as one might think. AI is also a topic in which METRANS is particularly interested in. Even if in this moment I’d be unable to name something that AI would be managing instead of “human workforce and experience”, we are actively monitoring this field and are looking forward to implementing it into our systems and services.





METRANS, a.s., is a company that was founded in 1991 and has been providing complete intermodal services for more than 30 years. The company operates a fleet of its own locomotives and wagons, which meets the highest requirements for modern rail transport. Thanks to a unique network of intermodal terminals, the company is able to provide high-quality intermodal services to customers throughout Central Europe. The parent company of METRANS, a.s. is Hamburger Hafen und Logistik Aktiengesellschaft. METRANS, a.s. is also the parent company of the group, which includes companies from Germany, Poland, Slovakia, Austria, Turkey and the Czech Republic.