Aproz mineral water being loaded into SBB carriages.


More mineral water on the rails

In the past four weeks, SBB Cargo has transported 543 carriages of mineral water from the Valais village of Aproz to Migros’ distribution centres. That's 160 more carriages than last year. Without any notice, the two partners have pulled off a logistical feat.

Daniel Sidler

Migros and its subsidiary, Aproz, have relied on rail transport for a long time. In 1961, they built a 135-metre-long bridge over the Rhône river together with SBB to connect the mineral water factory to the rail network. Since then, over 90 percent of the beverages – the volume produced has multiplied in the meantime – are transported by rail.

The connection to the rail network was made back then for purely logistical reasons: there was no proper road in Aproz. “Over time, the environmental argument of eco-friendly transportation became increasingly important”, says Aproz manager Michel Charbonnet. “Today we are – I would say globally – an example of environmentally friendly logistics, which is also extremely efficient.”

An SBB train going over a bridge.

Logistical feat

The importance of efficient transport logistics becomes apparent in crisis situations like the present. Around 42 percent more carriages compared to the same period last year travelled from the Valais town of Aproz to the Migros distribution centre in Suhr and to the regional warehouses of the individual Migros cooperatives in the past four weeks.

Even on Saint Joseph’s day, a public holiday in the canton of Valais, 11 carriages were dispatched to transport mineral water. Overall, Aproz has almost transported more mineral water in roughly the past 30 days than would usually be transported in the hot summer months.

A working partnership

Migros is SBB Cargo's biggest customer, transporting over one million tonnes of freight for the orange retailer on the railways every year. The advantages of rail generally come into their own when transporting large quantities over long distances. In order to maintain the environmental advantage of rail over road, SBB Cargo regularly adapts the network to customer needs and invests in innovation and automation. For example, SBB Cargo has ordered twelve new H3 hybrid locomotives from Alstom for shunting, three of which are already in use. The machines run on both diesel and electricity.

A forklift stacks Aproz mineral water bottles.

Around six billion litres of beverages by rail

Aproz Sources Minérales was founded in 1947 and has been part of the Migros Group since 1958. Since the construction of the railway bridge over the Rhône in 1961, Aproz has delivered approx. six billion litres of water and soft drinks from the Valais mountains using SBB Cargo. This environmentally friendly transportation has saved approximately 26 million litres of diesel thus far.