Position paper UIRR – CT.G/UIC : Economic crisis
The railway undertakings which are members of the UIC Combined Transport Group (CT.G) and the Combined Transport (CT) operators which are members of the UIRR scrl, meeting in the General Committee of their joint Association INTERUNIT in Brussels on 11th June 2009, devoted a large part of their work to looking at the worldwide financial crisis and, more particularly, at its repercussions for transport and CT.
The companies affiliated to INTERUNIT raise their very real concerns about the sharp decline in CT; this decline has been picking up speed over the last quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2009 and is being felt more keenly in unaccompanied (UIRR estimate: ? 20 % in the first quarter of 2009) than
in rolling road (UIRR estimate: ? 13 %) systems.
They state their fear that the recession, which is mostly affecting sectors which generate a large amount of rail freight traffic, may stretch through until the first six months of 2010 or even further and that, without appropriate measures, it may by then have caused irreparable damage to the
network of CT services.
The severest effect of the general fall in demand for transport is actually on CT which is suffering its impact in three stages:
? reduction in the number of ITUs carried per train
? operators forced
? on economic grounds
? to cancel services which have thus become uneconomic
? subsequent loss of traffic in the “gateway? system (interchange between trains)
Without delay the affiliated companies took all the measures in their power in order to attempt to maintain an operational programme cut down as little as possible, but they believe that outside assistance will be required in order to avoid highly damaging consequences as a result of the recession and which, by preventing the key players in CT from reacting vigorously to a future economic upturn, would otherwise be felt long after the crisis will have been brought under control.
The affiliated companies would like to see two types of measures implemented in parallel:
? with effect in the medium term: the improvement of rail infrastructures allowing both an increase in capacities (volume effect) and the removal of the prejudicial bottlenecks (quality effect). The necessary decisions need to be taken without delay and their actual implementation closely monitored.
? with immediate effect: a lightening of the burden of cost involved in operating (full) CT trains by means of a sharp short?term (12/18 months) reduction in the charges levied for access to the infrastructure and energy costs, in such a way as to minimise the need to cancel any of these trains (it should be remembered that, in Norway, CT trains are eligible for free access to the rail
infrastructure). The key players in CT also need to be able to retain – at no additional cost ? the availability of the train paths which were assigned to them and which the reduction in traffic brought about by the economic recession is currently preventing them from using.
So they are calling on both the Community and national Authorities and on the infrastructure managers as well to help the key players in CT, which is also in their own interests.
Indeed, it is important to prepare the ground for the recovery and to put these key players into a position where they will be able to rise to it, because CT is a driving force for the transport policy aiming to bring about the development of a system which, as has been established, is economically and ecologically the most sustainable and the implementation and potential of which have been proven in great detail.
Policy statement on consultation Paper European Commission DG TREN, Call for Comments, 1st October 2003 - Freight Integrator Action Plan: Supporting the organisers of Intermodal Freight Transport
1.- General comments
The CTG welcomes the initiative of an action plan supporting the organisers of intermodal freight transport.
The organisation of door - to - door freight transport by combining different modes of transport to build high quality, efficient and sustainable intermodal transport solutions is at the essence of the past and present efforts of the intermodal community.
This reflects the need for integrating the intermodal chain and for approaching the intermodal transport as an autonomous transport mode.
The CTG does not feel however that setting up integrating organisations whose drivers would not be, first and foremost, market forces like demand, added value to the customer, competition, profit and shareholders value, would constitute a viable, lasting and in the end, helpful proposition.
In the view of the CTG, this reality stemming from the market puts the neutrality requirement in doubt from the start, however desirable and indispensable the goal of integrating the intermodal chain.
A lot of intermodal operators do already fulfil an integrating role, that could be further expanded. However, the parlous, or at least fragile financial status of most of the intermodal operators reflects the difficulty of this particular business in the present market conditions.
Likewise, it does not look realistic nor useful to want to create and develop new and independent information systems, instead of seeking interfaces in order to use the existing ones in a more integrated and user friendly way.
Nevertheless, the CTG is in full agreement with the need of working on the four courses of action proposed by the Commission, and is pleased at the perspective of developing joint proposals and common actions in this regard with the Commission and the other partners in the intermodal chain, like the shippers, the intermodal operators and the transporters and the transport organisers.
Especially, the actions regarding the improvement of knowledge, awareness and understanding of intermodal transport, and the actions aimed at fostering the commitment and co-operation of transport users are of utmost importance in the eyes of the CTG.
In that regard, of special importance to the CTG are the conditions of co-operation between the Railway Undertakings, on the one hand, and between Railway Infrastructure Managers, on the other hand.
2.- Comments on specific questions
- Does the paper correctly assess the problems and potential for intermodal transport ?
Problems and potential seem to have been correctly assessed.
But any solution that discards the market motivations of any integrator and the role already played in that regard by the existing intermodal operators, does not look viable to the CTG.
- Is the emphasis on improving management of the chain by "freight integrators" shared?
The CTG shares the emphasis on improving management of the chain.
However, for the CTG, this improvement should best be left to the actors of the chain and must be driven by market forces and not by regulation.
But the Commission can assist in this evolution by helping in the different areas of action.
- Are the solutions proposed suitable ? What additional ones should be considered?
See the statements in the General Comments and in the answers to specific questions 1 and 2.
We would also refer to the CGT position paper on the harmonisation of intermodal loading units.
SQAS for Intermodal transport must be urgently developed.
User friendly interfaces between the existing tracking and tracing systems must be encouraged and developed. CTG is working on a pilot and demonstration project in this domain.
The railway infrastructure capacity reserves through 2010-2015 are being reviewed by the CTG, in order to establish how the Intermodal community will be able to cope with a growing business on a constrained infrastructure.
- What significant action could the European Union take in order to improve intermodal liability regimes ? What could be the benefits of such actions ?
Actions in this domain could be left to the bodies currently dealing with the issue (such as the United Nations).
- How can the widespread use of information and communication technologies be stimulated?
Support for pilot projects through the continuation and extension of research programmes.
Public fora where experiences are shared.
- What incentives could further stimulate the use of intermodal transport ?
Urgent joint work on improvement of knowledge, awareness and understanding.
Likewise, on the fostering of commitment and co-operation, extension of Marco Polo programme.
Examen Review and extension of the various European and national legislations and regulations regarding Intermodal transport, including subventions, Special treatment of Intermodal transport regarding infrastructure charges.