Blockchain a realistic solution for rail freight

Blockchain is no longer a hype; it has become a realistic solution, also for the rail freight sector. How can the industry benefit from this new technology? Klara Paardenkooper will explain this in a workshop about the ‘logistics applications of blockchain’ at the Freight & Terminal Forum.

Paardenkooper is chain manager blockchain at the RDM Knowledge Center Sustainable PortCity Rotterdam. “The power of blockchain is that it can create trust between parties through the security of transactions. It is therefore extremely suitable for the rail sector, where many parties have to work together. Of course, working together requires a level of trust in the first place”, the expert notes.

New Silk Road

The classic example is the New Silk Road. Especially on this route, which connects Europe, Asia and CIS countries on one route, there are many different parties involved. All these parties rely on different laws and regulations of different countries”, Paardenkooper said. “There is a lot to gain in terms efficiency, speed and safety.”

Blockchain will cut out the middleman in a transaction. The middleman is there because there is need for a trustworthy party. Blockchain can take up that role. The information inserted cannot be changed unauthorised. This is why it is referring to a ‘block’. Based on this principle, it is 99 per cent trustworthy.

Think twice

A logistics company considering the use of the application, should first define the parties involved in its logistic chain. “Next, you consider whether you are willing to share your data with the other parties. You may not want to share all data with all parties at all times. If you have looked into these aspects, you approach an IT specialist and he sets up your blockchain”, she explained earlier.

“When considering blockchain, it is good to ask which problem you want to solve. For some problems there are much better solutions than blockchain. Various frameworks have been developed to investigate whether people need it or not, and if so, which type is required. Blockchain is primarily a solution for data exchange, document digitalisation, tracking and tracing, smart contracts and supply chain finance. Its strength is to help create trust and to eliminate intermediaries.”

Play big

At the moment, the technology is rather used by large companies than small enterprises, which prefer to observe the ongoing developments before getting onboard. Large companies have the resources to experiment with Blockchain. These can be shippers, shipping companies or rail companies, she explained. ”It is important to set this up on a large scale, but this requires power. A party such as a large supermarket chain for example, has the power to make demands on its suppliers.”

“Blockchain is becoming increasingly known on the one hand. I have noticed that there is more and more knowledge about it and people have less resistance to it. On the other hand, blockchain also gets a lot of negative attention. This corresponds to the fact that it is passed the hype. But that only means that wider use is nearby.”


Are you interested in this workshop or would you like to join the discussion? Registration is free of charge. You must first register for the Freight & Terminal Forum, Expo only. Then, you visit the workshop programme and select the workshop of your choice.

Date: 28 March 2019
Time: 10:15 – 11:00


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