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 UIRR International Union of combined Road-Rail transport companies 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.