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 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.
CTG policy statement on the Draft Report on the proposal for a European Parliament and Council directive on Intermodal Loading Units
CTG policy statement on the Draft Report on the proposal for a European Parliament and Council directive on Intermodal Loading Units
1. In your Explanatory Statement, you rightly point out to the importance of safety and security aspects.
1.1. The Combined Transport Group (CGT) of the UIC gladly welcomes the initiative to harmonise maintenance procedures of units and to introduce mandatory regular inspections for all units, in line with the principles already laid down by the Container Safety Convention (CSC). Once again, we reiterate our support for an alignment on those principles.
1.2. Your proposed amendment rightly takes into account the economic impact of maintenance procedures, thus recognising that a level playing field between the rail, road and maritime modes needs to be created.
2. In your Report you also clearly state your intention to promote intermodality.
2.1. We can only welcome initiatives going in that direction. However, under Amendment 3, Recital 6a, you propose to encourage the placing on the market and dissemination of European intermodal loading units (EILU) granting tax rebates and other assistance from the EU to those acquiring such units. We feel it is of utmost importance that the development of intermodality is not unduly constrained by legislation if it is to meet its full market potential.
2.2. More over, measures, such as the ones described under 2.1, would not create a level playing field in the intermodal business. It would constitute a clear support to short sea shipping and inland waterways.
2.3. As mentioned in our previous position paper, a new family of intermodal units, versatile enough so that it could be used by all transport modes, would be successful and trigger investment from the industry only if economically viable.
2.4. It should also be noted that harmonising in the field of intermodal units could mean the introduction on the market of a unit with a higher tare weight. This is an expensive price to pay for potentially very little benefit.
2.5. With regard to the need for stackable equipment, one should point out that for a significant number of flows within Europe, where road competition is fierce, customers tend to favour full side access or roof access equipment which is transhipped from rail to road in the terminal and therefore does only occasionally require stackability characteristics.
2.6. During recent years, various units have been developed by swapbody manufacturers. However, the transport market within the EU favours more traditional designs which are better suited to serve the needs of general cargo transport.
2.7. One should also bear in mind that, in Europe, combined transport essentially represents an alternative to road. Over the past 15 years, road has been devising new technical solutions. To ensure and encourage the growth and development of combined transport, it is felt necessary to allow it to develop a range of technical products which respond to market expectations.
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.
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.
Harmonisation and standardisation of intermodal loading units - European Commission consultation paper
1. On a general level, the group welcomes the Commission’s initiatives to revitalise rail and to make intermodality more attractive to users.
2. More specifically, the group strongly welcomes the initiative to harmonise maintenance procedures of units across all transport modes. The current situation leaves it to the appreciation of individual organisations and modes to take measures in that respect. The group feels that harmonisation efforts in this field are urgently required. It therefore wishes to inform the Commission that, in the realm of the Technical Committee of INTERUNIT  (Chaired by Mr Muzio, Managing Director CEMAT), a working group has been set up to look at this issue. It also wishes to offer the Commission its expertise if it were required.
3. With regard to the creation of a new intermodal unit which could be used equally by all modes and which would progressively replace the existing fleets, the group wanted to share its views with the Commission and make the following comments:
3.1. A new family of intermodal units, versatile enough so that it could be used by all transport modes, would be successful and trigger investment from the industry only if economically viable.
3.2. Over the past years, the market has attempted to develop and launch more versatile units than the traditional swapbody. One can mention the Dutch project which aims to develop a unit with greater interoperability between road and rail.
3.3. However, although such initiatives exist, the European market has not embraced the idea of converting progressively to one type of unit only. The range of products transported by combined transport requires a range of adequate units.
3.4. One should also bear in mind that, in Europe, combined transport essentially represents an alternative to road. Over the past 15 years, road has been devising new technical solutions. To ensure and encourage the growth and development of combined transport, it is felt necessary to allow it to develop a range of technical products which respond to market expectations.
3.5. With regard to stackability, the group wanted to point out that, although stackable units present a clear advantage, they also still mean a greater tare weight. Nonetheless, it is true that specialised stackable units are beginning to appear on the market.
3.6. Finally, the group wished to suggest that the Commission could also encourage the development and harmonisation of intermodal units through promoting the concept of semi-trailers designed to be handled by grabs.
Policy statement on consultation Paper European Commission DG TREN, Call for Comments, 1st October 2003 - Freight Integrator Action Plan: Supporting the organisers of Intermodal Freight Transport
Grid of comments by the Groupe UIC du Transport Combiné
1. General comments
- The CTG welcomes the initiative of an action plan supporting the organisers of intermodal freight transport.
- The organisation of door - to - door freight transport by combining different modes of transport to build high quality, efficient and sustainable intermodal transport solutions is at the essence of the past and present efforts of the intermodal community.
- This reflects the need for integrating the intermodal chain and for approaching the intermodal transport as an autonomous transport mode.
- The CTG does not feel however that setting up integrating organisations whose drivers would not be, first and foremost, market forces like demand, added value to the customer, competition, profit and shareholders value, would constitute a viable, lasting and in the end, helpful proposition.
- In the view of the CTG, this reality stemming from the market puts the neutrality requirement in doubt from the start, however desirable and indispensable the goal of integrating the intermodal chain.
- A lot of intermodal operators do already fulfil an integrating role, that could be further expanded. However, the parlous, or at least fragile financial status of most of the intermodal operators reflects the difficulty of this particular business in the present market conditions.
- Likewise, it does not look realistic nor useful to want to create and develop new and independent information systems, instead of seeking interfaces in order to use the existing ones in a more integrated and user friendly way.
- Nevertheless, the CTG is in full agreement with the need of working on the four courses of action proposed by the Commission, and is pleased at the perspective of developing joint proposals and common actions in this regard with the Commission and the other partners in the intermodal chain, like the shippers, the intermodal operators and the transporters and the transport organisers.
- Especially, the actions regarding the improvement of knowledge, awareness and understanding of intermodal transport, and the actions aimed at fostering the commitment and co-operation of transport users are of utmost importance in the eyes of the CTG.
- In that regard, of special importance to the CTG are the conditions of co-operation between the Railway Undertakings, on the one hand, and between Railway Infrastructure Managers, on the other hand.
2. Comments on specific questions
Does the paper correctly assess the problems and potential for intermodal transport ?
Problems and potential seem to have been correctly assessed.
But any solution that discards the market motivations of any integrator and the role already played in that regard by the existing intermodal operators, does not look viable to the CTG.
Is the emphasis on improving management of the chain by "freight integrators" shared?
The CTG shares the emphasis on improving management of the chain.
However, for the CTG, this improvement should best be left to the actors of the chain and must be driven by market forces and not by regulation.
But the Commission can assist in this evolution by helping in the different areas of action.
Are the solutions proposed suitable ? What additional ones should be considered?
See the statements in the General Comments and in the answers to specific questions 1 and 2.
We would also refer to the CGT position paper on the harmonisation of intermodal loading units.
SQAS for Intermodal transport must be urgently developed.
User friendly interfaces between the existing tracking and tracing systems must be encouraged and developed. CTG is working on a pilot and demonstration project in this domain.
The railway infrastructure capacity reserves through 2010-2015 are being reviewed by the CTG, in order to establish how the Intermodal community will be able to cope with a growing business on a constrained infrastructure.
What significant action could the European Union take in order to improve intermodal liability regimes ? What could be the benefits of such actions ?
Actions in this domain could be left to the bodies currently dealing with the issue (such as the United Nations).
How can the widespread use of information and communication technologies be stimulated?
Support for pilot projects through the continuation and extension of research programmes.
Public fora where experiences are shared.
What incentives could further stimulate the use of intermodal transport ?
Urgent joint work on improvement of knowledge, awareness and understanding.
Likewise, on the fostering of commitment and co-operation, extension of Marco Polo programme.
Examen Review and extension of the various European and national legislations and regulations regarding Intermodal transport, including subventions, Special treatment of Intermodal transport regarding infrastructure charges.
In March 2002, the European Commission invited the Combined Transport Group (CTG) to comment on its consultation paper on the above mentioned subject. The UIC, through the CTG, responded in May 2002 following a joint discussion with the intermodal operators.
In the resulting paper, the CTG welcomed the Commission’s initiatives to revitalise the railways and make intermodality more attractive to users and expressed some reservations regarding the creation of a new intermodal unit (the paper is attached for ease of reference).
The Commission’s proposed Directive (COM (2003) 155 FINAL), presented in April this year, was also discussed between the railways and the intermodal operators in the realm of their joint working platform INTERUNIT, as its content seemed to be going further than what the earlier proposals may have seemed to indicate.
We would wish to comment on two aspects:
1. With regard to maintenance and periodic inspections of units, our initial paper had supported harmonisation in this field.
In the proposed Directive, the Commission introduces mandatory regular inspections for all intermodal units, in line with the principles already laid down by the Container Safety Convention (CSC). Once again, we reiterate our support for an alignment on those principles. However whereas the CSC regulations stipulate that the first inspection takes place 5 years after the unit has first been used and every 30 months after that, the Commission suggests that the periodic inspections (after the initial 5 year period) take place every 24 months.
We would wish to emphasise the economic impact of such measures, especially if, as suggested in the proposed Directive, the inspections have to be carried out by authorised bodies only, thus implying that the operators’ internal experts would no longer be authorised to perform that task. It is feared that this would put an additional cost burden on rail as opposed to other modes such as road or maritime ISO container transport.
2. With regard to unit dimensions, the Commission suggests a unit height of 2670mm. This specification doesn’t appear to be in keeping with the current needs of the European industry which is moving to units of 2905mm high and in some sectors higher. An internal height of 3m is often required. This is also illustrated by the fact that operators, in order to penetrate certain markets (the UK for instance) and yet retain the advantages of higher units, have invested in low platform wagons.
We hope the above comments will help the discussion.
International Union of Railways - UIC
The International Union of Railways was founded officially on 20 October 1922 at an international conference in Paris. The statutes were approved by 51 railway companies from 29 countries in Europe and Asia. The purpose of the organisation was initially to deal with all technical and operating matters relating to the development of international rail transport. Subsequently, the field of cooperation expanded to include all key disciplines of importance for the future of railway companies, i.e. policy-making, strategy, commercial, management and financial aspects.
The latest revision of the statutes took place in 1993. The objective consisted of adapting international cooperation structures and decision-making mechanisms to the new challenges, particularly liberalisation of the transport market in Europe and the development of railway cooperation at world level.
In recent years, a large number of new members have joined UIC including railway companies from all the continents and new railway operators spawned in the wake of company restructuring.
Today UIC has 152 members from 87 countries on 5 continents.
Combined Transport Group - GTC
In order to develop and promote combined transport, a joint body had to be created, common to Railway Undertakings, with the task of encouraging and coordinating the work conducted in this field and centralising the results obtained.
This special group, known as the Combined Transport Group (CTG), comprises the following Railway Undertakings:
BLS, CD, CFF/SBB, CFL EuroLuxCargo, CP, DB AG, DSB - Railion Denmark, EWSI, Trenitalia spa, GySEV/ROeEE, HZ, MAV, NSB, ÖBB, PKP, RAILION Benelux, RENFE, SNCB, SNCF, SZ, ZSR.
As part of its remit, the CTG shall be responsible for fostering exchanges among its members on technical, commercial and legal subjects. The CTG shall also conduct public relations work and assume a representative role on behalf of its members.
a) The technical subjects shall include
- infrastructure, rolling stock, harmonisation of IRS (International Railway Solution), standardisation, carriage of dangerous goods;
- operational matters (border crossings, etc.);
- information and data exchanges (coding, EDI);
- research and new technologies.
b) The commercial subjects shall cover
- market research and general-interest statistical surveys;
- creation of quality labels;
- cooperation with customs and taxation authorities;
c) Legal issues
In the field of combined transport and in liaison with the CER, the CTG shall contribute to the drafting of international texts and update UIC leaflets in cooperation with the various bodies of that Association.
The CTG may also investigate the form and extent of public aid granted by States.
d) Public relations
The CTG shall foster the relations that are necessary to its work with operators, shippers, railway undertakings that are not UIC or CTG members, government authorities and international organisations.
The UIC DIOMIS project (Developing Infrastructure Use and Operating Models for Intermodal Shift) seeks to improve the competitiveness of international rail freight transport and encourage a shift of traffic from other modes – the roads especially – to rail. To this end, it must help identify ways and means of
decongesting the network of rail infrastructure and terminals and make them more attractive to shippers for international transport operations. A key question addressed by this project is how to absorb the anticipated growth in combined transport volumes in the years ahead, on a rail network shared between different types of traffic and already highly saturated.
The DIOMIS project is divided into 9 modules, each of which will produce a report.
The results of the work from 3 of these modules were presented recently.
« Development of domestic combined transport », which analyses domestic combined-transport growth and its impact on the infrastructure.
For the record, the Capacity Reserves Study published in 2004 had focused exclusively on the development of international combined transport on the 2015 horizon, with domestic combined transport then viewed as a constant. In this particular DIOMIS module, the analysis of domestic combined transport was carried out for several countries, namely Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Poland. The study findings show that by 2015 the congestion zones will not only be denser but also more numerous.
In Germany, for example, the most revealing corridor is Hamburg-Frankfurt, with congestion levels increasing from 41% to 68% by 2015.
In Italy too the Bologna-Florence corridor by 2015 will have reached record congestion levels following the anticipated growth in domestic combined transport.
Bearing in mind the conclusions reached by the Consultants in respect of this module, it was decided to organise a one-day briefing session on 1 February 2007 in order to heighten the awareness of all the players concerned.
« How best to improve utilisation of existing capacity » is the object of the second module completed to date.
On the basis of discussions held with combined-transport operators, the Consultants have produced a report listing best practices in terms of the management of existing capacity. These best practices are analysed against 3 three criteria: How easy are they to implement? Are they transposable to other operators? What is their impact on existing capacities?
This module on 12 October last was the object of a well-attended workshop which brought together the main Railway undertakings and leading European combined transport operators.
« Report on combined transport »
Between the AT Kearney Study and the Study on Capacity Reserves 2015, 15 years elapsed during which no study or report was published to highlight global combined transport trends at European level in terms of volumes, of development of market structures, etc. Yet such information is crucial, particularly as support to policy statements or investment decision-making.
DIOMIS has therefore dedicated a module to this question and the report addresses the following aspects:
- growth forecasts for (domestic and international) combined transport
- market structure : players and customers
- marker shares per segment
- salient developments during the period reviewed (for information : it is planned to update this report every two years).
For more information about the DIOMIS project, please visit the website: http://diomis.uic.org
Combined Transport has developed strongly over the past 10 years. However, this significant increase in traffic volumes (average annual growth rate of 7% since 1986) came about at a time when the railways were required to review their working methods in order to produce better economic results. Moreover, capacity constraints combined with a number of other adverse factors have led to a deterioration in the quality of services provided to customers.
UIC has just released Combined Transport Quality Guidelines, advocating the implementation of quality management systems on major combined transport routes throughout Europe. They draw on existing examples of proactive quality management such as the Brenner Service Centre (Germany - Austria - Italy) and the quality labelling system introduced by UIC on a number of European routes.
For quality management to be successful at international level, it needs to be rooted in a joint approach adopted by railway companies. The Quality Guidelines urge European railways to tap synergies in developing quality management systems. Measures include efficient tracking and tracing, a reliable communications chain between the railways and their customers and systematic analyses of performance culminating in the introduction of tailor-made quality-enhancement measures.
It is planned to convert the Quality Guidelines into a UIC leaflet, thereby guaranteeing a uniform approach to combined transport quality management across the rail sector. The onus will then be on the members of the Combined Transport Group to assess the scope for developing and implementing quality management systems.
UIC Combined Transport Group (CTG)
To foster the development and growth of combined transport, a joint body has been set up at UIC, bringing together the various railway undertakings in an effort to promote and coordinate initiatives taken in this field and centralise results.
The body, or special group in question is the Combined Transport Group, comprising the following railway undertakings:
BLS, CD, CFF, CFL, CP, DB AG, DSB,EWSI, FS Trenitalia, GySEV/ROeEE, HZ, MAV, NS, NSB, ÖBB, PKP, RENFE, SNCB, SNCF, SZ, ZSR.
As part of its remit, the CTG is responsible for fostering exchanges between its members on technical, commercial and legal topics. It also conducts public relations work and represents its members on a range of issues.
a) Technical matters:
- infrastructure, rolling stock, harmonisation of regulations, standardisation, carriage of dangerous goods;
- operations (border crossings, etc.);
- exchange of information (coding, EDI);
- research and new technologies.
b) Commercial aspects:
- market research and general-interest statistics studies;
- creation of quality labels;
- cooperation with customs and taxation authorities;
- new forms of marketing.
c) Legal issues:
For matters of relevance to combined transport, the CTG provides input for the drafting of international regulations, in liaison with the CER, and updates UIC leaflets, in conjunction with various other bodies in the Association. The CTG may also examine the nature and extent of public aid granted by States.
d) Public relations:
The CTG fosters the relations required to underpin its work with operators, shippers, railway undertakings that do not belong to UIC or CTG, public authorities and international organisations.
“Agenda 2015 for Combined Transport in Europe”: paving the way for a strong and lasting growth of Combined Transport
The objective of the Conference held at the UIC on 17 April was to present the Agenda 2015 for Combined Transport in Europe to the transport industry.
Agenda 2015 for Combined Transport in Europe is the concluding report of the DIOMIS study (developing infrastructure and operating models for intermodal shift) carried out by KombiConsult and K+P Transport Consultants under UIC guidance. The study gives to both suppliers and customers of intermodal services recommendations, strategies, actions and tools on how they can pave the way for a continuously stable growth of combined transport by the year 2015 and beyond in a context of congested infrastructure.
Luc Aliadière, UIC Chief Executive, opened the conference stressing the importance of DIOMIS as it illustrates one of the key missions UIC: to serve as a technical platform for its members and for the industry as a whole.
He further emphasised that one of the great values of the study was to bring together all stakeholders providing logistic solutions involving rail with the aim to achieving modal shift for the benefit of the freight market and society (sustainable development).
Martin Burkhardt, Director General of UIRR, and Gilberto Galloni, Chairman of Europlatforms, expressed the support of the member companies of their Associations, and outlined their collaboration to the project.
AGENDA 2015 FOR COMBINED TRANSPORT addresses three issues:
Growth potential of unaccompanied combined rail/road transport in Europe
by 2015 Eric Peetermans, Chairman of the UIC Combined Transport Group gave an outline of the growth potential of combined transport in Europe by 2015. The intermodal industry is expected to more than double the total volume of shipments by 2015. Total unaccompanied combined rail/road traffic in Europe is forecasted to increase to 268 million gross tonnes by 2015 up 113 per cent from the 2005 volume. This signifies a mean annual growth rate of 7.9 per cent thus achieving a significantly higher increase than expected for road or conventional rail freight transportation.
Required measures to realise full growth potential of combined transport
The intermodal industry in Europe has already taken numerous actions to gear the productivity and performance of services to customer requirements, increase the network and capture new markets. Many innovations concerning rail production, process organization, technology, and capacity management are still required.
Agenda 2015 has looked into the issue and highlights the need for industrial production and using the best practices of the industry which are too often not communicated and known widely enough.
Role and responsibilities of all stakeholders The Agenda 2015 for combined transport in Europe formulates a vision of the development of the intermodal industry in Europe by 2015 and beyond. With an aim to supporting intermodal stakeholders Agenda 2015 provides a tool-box of effective actions
which will enable modal shift.
The actions are illustrated in the table below and concern all stakeholders:
The conference panellists F. Castagnetti (New Opera), T. Struyf (TRW), E. Possegger (RCA), B. Morgante (RFI & RNE), J. Gemels (IFB), F. Jaeger (ERTMS Corridor C), M. Alweil (DUSS), P. Rousseaux (DG Tren), who animated the afternoon session, all stressed that the success of AGENDA 2015 particularly depends on all stakeholders committing to this programme and integrating it into their own business or policy strategies without delay.
Oliver Sellnick, UIC Director Railway Undertakings concluded: “The Agenda 2015 is more than just another study demanding more investment into rail infrastructure. It explains to railway undertakings, intermodal operators, terminal operators and infrastructure managers how they can use infrastructure more efficiently by using already existing best-practise measures.” He once again reiterated the undisputed need for stakeholder cooperation and international coordination and encouraged all participants to disseminate the information in their own companies.
M. Sellnick closed the day by inviting all participants to take over the responsibility of being promoters of the Agenda 2015 and to meet again next year to share the concrete actions which they will have undertaken on the basis of Agenda 2015.
For more information on DIOMIS and the Agenda 2015 for Combined Transport: http://diomis.uic.org