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European rail sector posts 7% growth in combined transport in 2000

The combined transport of freight, which takes in both carriage of containers by rail and piggyback traffic (transport of road vehicles or semi-trailers on trains), has unquestionably boomed over the past few years throughout the 15 EU member states, Switzerland and Norway. The economic slowdown in 1998 and 1999 had a more or less adverse effect on a series of international combined transport routes. In 2000, however, it gave way to an upturn, which brought with it a strong increase in transport demand.

According to the statistics collated by the UIC Combined Transport Group (CTG), CT traffic increased from 80 million tonnes in 1986 to 180 million tonnes in 2000, reflecting an average annual growth rate of 7%. Hence, the volume of combined transport conveyed by rail more than doubled between 1987 and 2000.

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Growth in combined transport by rail (in thousands of tonnes) - source : UIC

The railway undertakings from the 17 aforementioned countries are doing everything in their power to make further inroads into this market and to devise optimal solutions to satisfy the expectations of their customers, first and foremost the combined transport operators. Major investment has been earmarked to that end, not least to boost traction resources.

Combined transport blends the intrinsic advantages of at least two transport modes within a single chain with no change of container. The bulk of the journey takes place by rail, inland waterway or sea, with the initial and final feeder runs being organised by road. When it comes to crafting the CT scheme, rail is ideally suited to the carriage of big volumes of freight over long distances, offering competitive timings and meeting environmental imperatives.

To foster the development and growth of combined transport, a joint body has been set up at UIC, bringing together railway undertakings in an effort to promote and coordinate initiatives taken in this field and centralise results.

The body in question is the Combined Transport Group. It comprises 21 railway undertakings and is remitted to facilitate exchanges between its members on technical, commercial and legal matters.

Contact people:

UIC Press: com uic.org

UIC Freight Department: Sandra Géhénot - Chargée de Mission Tel: + 33 1 44 49 20 84 Fax: + 33 1 44 49 20 89 e-mail: gehenot uic.org

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