As part of the rail freight project DIOMIS - Developing Infrastructure use and Operating Models for Intermodal Shift – a workshop was held in Vienna on 25 March.
Under the motto “Growing Intermodal traffic in the Central and Eastern European Countries”, key stakeholders met to discuss the growth potential of combined transport and to share their experiences on the challenges and opportunities for combined transport in that geographical area. The conference was opened by Mr Macher, CEO of Rail Cargo Austria who stressed the strategic importance of the region. He explained RCA’s aim to run a successful multimodal network along key corridors together with long lasting partners in the industry.
The key findings of the study for CEEC countries were presented by Mr Mertel, from KombiConsult, and can be summarised as follows:
- In the medium term intermodal rail/road traffic in CEEC countries will continue to be fed primarily by container hinterland traffic
- In the long term (> 2013) continental transport will be key to the growth of intermodal traffic and outpace increase of maritime traffic on most international trade lanes owing to booming transport of supplies, components, semi-finished and finished products between CEEC countries and western European markets
- Intermodal traffic on international lanes between CEEC countries and west Europe will grow faster than the entire European intermodal industry.
- Intra-CEEC intermodal traffic will grow strongly but market share will remain comparatively small except for container traffic with intra-regional sea ports.
- Domestic intermodal traffic may achieve significant levels in CEEC countries with container ports, in other countries widely limited to distribution/collection of international shipments on national services via hubs.
Messrs Kienzler (H+P Transport Consultants), Sondermann (KombiConsult) and Peetermans (Chairman of the UIC Combined Transport Group) invited representatives from the industry to give their views on the conditions needed to ensure further modal shift from the perspectives of Hinterland traffic, Continental Traffic & Terminal Strategy and Strategic outlook for the future. Infrastructure investments and improvements to accommodate longer and heavier trains, coordination of terminal development, equipment availability (wagons and units), cross border interoperability, non-discriminatory access to terminals, service reliability and infrastructure charging were mentioned as priorities to ensure the forecast growth takes place. On this last item, the representative of the Slovak Ministry of Transport, Mr Marusinek, officially announced a drastic reduction of infrastructure charges in the very near future. Mr Schultze from Gefco presented the Kaluga project and stressed the need for the railways’ support in such logistic projects whilst Mr Jerolitsch from DB Schenker introduced a debate on sharing the liability for block trains and stressed the current shortage of appropriate equipment (suitable wagons and units).
Mr Breuhahn, Managing Director of Kombiverkehr, explained that today’s bottlenecks are the consequence of the lack of investment in the nineties and urged all actors not to repeat the same mistakes in order not to miss the opportunities given by CEEC countries. The infrastructure bottleneck issue was further described by Mr Kiss from Metrans.
The question of free access to terminals was raised by Mr Morizet who illustrated how this impedes the adequate provision of services to the market. Mr Patzner, ICA, stressed the importance of cost control and business process whilst Mr Svetek, Adriakombi, and Mr Babic, Port of Koper, explained the strategic positioning of Slovenia as a gateway to Europe and to the Far East. Oliver Sellnick, UIC Freight Director, concluded that despite its negative impact on the 2009 results, the economic crisis has also given the opportunity to rethink the business. Signs of recovery are tangible and the confidence in the extraordinary growth of combined transport, especially hinterland traffic, seemed to be shared by all actors.