Rail-Freight Transiting Risks and Contingency Plan

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Third-party logistics has been one of the most widespread means of operating the company’s international transiting for many years. Thus, according to Seyed-Alagheband (2011), third-party logistics or 3PL stands for “external companies which perform logistics functions that have traditionally been performed within an organization” (p. 73). Undeniably, the introduction of transiting global supervision provides both the company and the customer with certain benefits. For instance, companies can delegate their responsibilities to contract parties, whereas the customers have access to better support in terms of logistics and quicker service delivery options.

However, the creation of international rail-freight transiting lines may as well lead to several unforeseen complications, including socio-political challenges in one of the transiting countries. Currently, the idea of rail-freight transiting does not solely embrace the mission to optimize logistics and customer experience. Additionally, the companies want to comply with the expectations set by Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) patterns, focusing on the idea of minimizing their carbon footprint and ethical decision-making in terms of employment, manufacturing, and supply chain management (Woodburn et al., 2008). For this reason, every socio-political precedent across the rail-freight transiting is a challenge for the head office of the company.

In the present case study, the issue of continuation of cooperation with a country that has political instability concerns both economic and ethical challenges. When creating a rail-freight transit pattern, companies seek to save money on distance, time spent on state customs, reduction of bottlenecks and delays, and safety for the drivers and delivery (Woodburn et al., 2008). In a country with a political conflict or instability, all of these factors are compromised. For example, the research conducted by Asif et al. (2019) demonstrates how political disruptions in Pakistan affect textile supply chain management, leading to substantial delivery delays, interruptions in the supply chain, and limited access to the workplace. Hence, political instability is likely to result in similar complications, creating the need to seek alternative transit solutions for the company. As stated by Woodburn et al. (2008), the risk of harm to both the population and the environment can serve as a motivation to embrace alternative delivery patterns and routes, even if they are not as time-efficient as the primary option.

In the case of political instability, logistics employees are at risk of being involuntarily involved in a national conflict. Hence, an ethically justified option would be to seek another rail-freight transit that does not support or somehow accept the actions of the local government. While both the company and the country in question can lose money on the termination of transit, the head office of the company would be able to make sure that its contracted employees are not at risk of being victims of the political conflict. Moreover, there is a possibility that the profit received from the transit deals would eventually sponsor the political conflict in Kerplakistan. Hence, the risks associated with staying with the usual rail-freight line include:

  • Safety risks associated with personnel and product delivery on the state borders;
  • Bottleneck associated with increased military tension on the borders;
  • Transition delays within the country due to possible strikes and military search;
  • Economical support of the government and military force through cooperation;

Considering such several risks, it can be concluded that for the company to continue transits is both an economic and an ethical issue, especially when it comes to the safety of the logistics contractors employed in Kerplakistan. Hence, it is crucial to develop a contingency plan for the transiting. According to Seyed-Alagheband (2011), the process of purchasing 3PL services includes the selection of feasible alternatives to transit. Hence, the next best transit route should be chosen until the political situation in Kerplakistan is settled. A feasible alternative may be to choose a marine transit route instead of a rail-freight transit. However, if this option is impossible due to financial or geographical reasons, neighboring states can present their options for transit temporarily.

The suggestions and definitions of 3PL presented by both Seyed-Alagheband (2011) and Woodburn et al. (2008) are relevant in the modern context of international transit and logistics outsourcing. Indeed, both the issues of introducing 3PL to an enterprise and its international implications take place in today’s perception of ethically responsible and meaningful transportation across borders. Woodburn et al.’s (2008) alternative to opt for a longer yet more socially responsible transiting route is justified by the biblical worldview that encourages people to serve others and live in imago Dei or the image of God. The principle of nonmaleficence implies that the actions of a man should not harm others. This principle is explicitly applied to the situation of avoiding a transit plan through Kerplakistan in order not to harm the employees and the residents, even if this choice means self-sacrifice and losing a part of the profit for the company. This principle is embodied in Isaiah 1:17-19 (Bible, New Revised Standard Version, 1989):

Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land.

Hence, the Bible encourages people to make amends on Earth despite their sins through the intention to do good and cause no harm by their actions. Choosing the path of not sponsoring and supporting the political conflict is one of the ways to act in the image of God.


Asif, M., Chhetri, P., & Padhye, R. (2019). Do political disruptions affect supply chain performance? A qualitative case study of the textile supply chain in Pakistan. Journal of International Logistics and Trade, 17(3), 77-88. Web.

Bible, New Revised Standard Version. (1989). The National Council of Churches.

Seyed-Alagheband, S. A. (2011). Logistics parties. In Farahani, L. R., & Rezapour, S., & L. Kardar (Eds.), Logistics operations and management (pp. 71-92). Elsevier.

Woodburn, A. G., Allen, J., Browne, M., & Leonardi, J. (2008). The impacts of globalization on international road and rail freight transport activity: past trends and future perspectives. In OECD/ITF Global Forum on Sustainable Development: Transport and Environment in a Globalising World.

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