The European Shippers Council organised a workshop on Rail freight competitiveness and attractiveness on 14 September as part of its first Railway Transport Council Shippers Day.
This workshop brought together shippers (Renault, Total, Nestlé etc.), the sector association members of the ESC, railway undertakings and rail associations. UIC was represented by Mrs Sandra Géhénot, Senior Freight Advisor.
The workshop aim was to help shippers and railway undertakings better understand their respective needs and constraints in order to identify practical ways of increasing rail freight’s competitiveness and attractiveness for shippers.
The message from the shippers was clear: “We need rail but competitive rail”.
To kick start this first workshop, participants brainstormed on two core themes:
- Cost competitiveness: How to increase rail freight’s competitiveness through reduction of costs?
- Capacity and flexibility: How to increase available capacity on the rail network and the quality of capacity reserved for freight trains, while increasing flexibility?
Various aspects of rail were discussed and explained. These ranged from cost factors such as track access charges or last mile operation to more operational issues such as possibilities to bundle freight in order to optimise capacity and resources.
The issues of reliability and flexibility also featured high on the agenda and participants engaged in a concrete discussion on the need for increased flexibility towards the entire booking process.
The next steps will focus on identifying concrete joint action to progress priorities.
All participants warmly thanked Pauline Bastidon, Head of European Policy at FTA, who led this initiative.