The UIC Combined Transport Group and the UIRR have jointly published the initial findings from the eighth bi-annual report providing a comprehensive overview of the current situation with regard to combined transport (CT) in Europe. The report was presented on 28 October.
The host of the event, Ms Majorie van Leijen, Editor-in-Chief of RailFreight.com, welcomed over 50 participants from around the world and guided the audience and speakers through the press conference. A dedicated session was offered at the end of the conference for participants to discuss the various interesting questions that were raised from different perspectives.
Land freight market hugely important for the European economy, environment and society
Ms Sandra Géhénot, UIC Freight Director, highlighted the economic importance of the European land freight transport market. Its impact on the environment and society is significant. It is therefore vital for the sector to work together to drive modal shift towards sustainable transport solutions, and rail has a key role to play. Ms Géhénot also stressed that the 2020 report is an example of closer cooperation with the UIRR. The UIC Combined Transport Group - representing 80 per cent of CT railway undertakings in Europe - and the UIRR have been cooperating for many years now.
Comprehensive insights into market structures
Mr Mathias Lahrmann, Managing Director of BSL Transportation Consultants, provided up-to-date information on rail/road combined transport volumes for 2019 and for all market segments, and gathered the market participants’ views on market structures and future developments. Mr Lahrmann also highlighted disparities between selected regions in Europe, as well as intermodal loading units (ILUs), which are examined in light of their use in combined transport, and the role of terminals in the combined transport chain.
Combined transport market facing numerous challenges
Such information must be considered in its political context. Mr Ralf-Charley Schultze, UIRR President, explained the situation we are facing: climate change, public concerns about air pollution caused by diesel engines, unabated road congestion and a truck driver shortage have all drawn the attention of European policymakers to combined transport. In the context of the European Green Deal, decarbonisation and effective mitigation of the other challenges of our time (pandemic, social inclusion, etc.) cannot be achieved without significantly affecting the way transportation is managed. Within the transport sector, when it comes to the longer distance freight segment, combined transport delivers.
CT market has increased more than 50 per cent in the past ten years and market outlook is positive
The press conference was closed by Mr Eric Lambert, Chairman of the UIC Combined Transport Group, who highlighted the increase in the share of rail freight, and combined transport in particular, between 2009 to 2018. International CT has seen particular growth. In Mr Lambert’s view, CT with its growth figures is a key driver for achieving the 30by2030 objectives for the rail sector as a reliable system, even in times of crisis. This is also endorsed by the sector’s positive outlook for 2022 to 2024 in terms of volume and revenue. Mental shift must be the main focus for 2021 - the Year of Rail - as it is a prerequisite for modal shift. Mr Lambert concluded by declaring that combined transport is an integral part of the solution to promote modal shift and ensure that rail becomes the backbone of future mobility.
The 2020 Report on Combined Transport will be published in the first half of November 2020.
The presentation for the press conference can be viewed on the UIC website: https://uic.org/freight/combined-transport/#documents