Friday, June 30, 2017

European intermodal freight shows slim growth in 2016-17

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The International Union for Road-Rail Combined Transport (UIRR) said combined road-rail transport in Europe reported growth in 2016-17 for only the second time since the global financial crisis, albeit only minor growth, with the total number of consignments increasing by 0.66% and tonne-kilometers by 3%.

The UIRR also reported that the number of short-haul loads shipped in 2016 increased by 0.76%, and border crossing and international transport, which are the engines of the overall growth, both outperformed the average.

Although the report’s figures indicate a more prosperous future for intermodal, according to UIRR, trucking remains the preferred method of freight transport.

It said in particular the price of electric power for rail, which is increasingly sourced from renewables, has not been able to keep pace with the decline in the price of crude oil, making trucks more attractive. In addition, track access charges continued to increase while some road tolls were lowered in certain countries. Investments in noise mitigation measures and ERTMS (European Railway Traffic Management System) have also caused the cost of using rail to increase.

The UIRR hopes that the upcoming revision of the European regulatory framework of the road sector under the Road Initiatives (Mobility Package) of the European Commission will readdress this imbalance. Simultaneous updates to Directive 92/106 concerning intermodal should also increase productivity through the proliferation of standards and harmonization of standards across different countries.

The UIRR says that if these reforms are able to encourage 5-7% annual growth in the sector as witnessed before the financial crisis, then it will be possible to deliver the modal shift aims of the EU Transport Whitepaper, which are essential to fulfilling the goals of the Paris climate accord. In addition, it says increasing the role of sustainable freight transport will help to reduce emissions and reduce the 25,000 deaths and 100,000 injuries suffered on Europe’s roads each year.





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