Swiss Federal Railways SBB (Schweizerische Bundesbahnen) has announced it will spin off its international freight services on its transalpine transit routes into a separate company.

Splitting SBB Cargo, SBB’s rail freight unit, is aimed at reducing production costs through lean processes and structures, as well as using a simplified IT system.

SBB will continue to operate the domestic wagonload services and plans to further standardise and tailor services for its customers.

The restructured business will focus on business on the north-south corridor between the North Sea ports and northern Italy.

SBB is in talks with Swiss intermodal operator Hupac about taking a stake in the future company and talks are also on to integrate SBB Cargo’s subsidiaries in Germany and Italy.

SBB plans to divulge more details in the summer, including possible lay-offs and the new company’s headquarters, and says it is targeting a positive result in its Swiss wagonload business by the end of 2013.

SBB Cargo’s prime business involves moving traffic across the borders into France, Germany and Italy, and SBB intends to sign bilateral co-operation agreements with German rail operator DB and French rail operator SNCF and other partners.