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Japan Shifting to Trains for Freight

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Companies in Japan are switching from freight lorries to rail to transport freight over land. In some cases, competitors are cooperating in the venture. The moves from one mode of freight transportation to the other has been prompted by the chronic shortage of freight lorry drivers.

Asahi Breweries Ltd. and Kirin Brewery Co., which are competitors in Japan’s beer market, are cooperating in transporting products made in the Kansai region to their joint logistics center in Kanazawa. The containers transit on the Japan Freight Railway Co. This is estimated to take 10,000 lorry trips off the road every year. The two companies are planning to expanding their cooperation in transport and logistics.

The logistics industry in Japan faces a serious shortage of lorry drivers as fewer young people are choosing the job. This reflects a falling interest in automobiles among Japanese youth, according to experts. Those aged 50 or over now account for 40 percent of freight lorry drivers in Japan.

A 26-carriage freight train can carry the same amount of cargo as 65 10-ton lorries. JR Freight handles almost all of railway freight in Japan.

Freight trains now have about a five-percent market share of domestic cargo transport in Japan in terms of volume.