Increase the use of Rail

Increasing the use of rail to transport freight has obvious benefits in terms of reduction of carbon footprint and congestion on roads and it is one of the main approaches to decarbonize logistics. The European Commission, as part of the Smart and Sustainable Mobility Strategy has set the objective to increase the rail freight traffic by 50% until 2030 and double it until 2050 compared to 2015.

Despite the benefits and support to increase performance of rail, this mode still appears to be unable to attract flows consistently and increase traffic. Rail is often seen as a complex part of the transport system for most logistics companies and shippers that rely mostly on road for transportation.

In 2022, different parties from the railway sector, the LSPs as well as the shippers have been asked how they rate the competitiveness of rail and intermodal freight compared to road transport. Our goal was to determine the areas where the perception was deviating most, among shippers and the railway sector in particular. Additionally, we checked which were the primary criteria to determine competitiveness. Over-all, the perception of competitiveness of rail is very different for the rail sector than for the shippers.

Competitiveness road vs rail:

  • The rail sector recognizes rail and road are equally competitive.
  • However, shippers identify major shortcomings on competitiveness of rail and intermodal transport compared to road.
  • High variance on shippers‘ and LSPs‘ individual perception on rail competitiveness.

Primary criteria to determine competitiveness of road and rail transport are:

  1. Cost
  2. On-time performing (un-/loading)
  3. Environmental footprint

Competitiveness criteria with most difference in perception between rail and shippers that we will further explore

  • Lack of integration of information into other supply chain solutions
  • On-time performance (un-/loading)
  • Transit-time
  • Lack of appropriate connections/services matching my flows.

Next steps

Small working groups will work to exchange and conclude on the reasons behind this important difference on perception on those competitiveness criteria. Working Groups will include shippers, rail sector or LSPs practitioners starting with lack of integration of information into other supply chain solutions

For more information contact Serge Schamschula and Fernando Liesa

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