The results of UIC’s latest Eurasian corridor study were presented last Thursday to more than 150 sector colleagues. Continuing earlier work on this topic, the focus on this occasion was on the Middle and Southern Corridors.
Following an opening by UIC Director General François Davenne, who stressed the success of the Northern route, with volumes increasing from insignificant levels only a decade ago to over 700 trains per month today, Roland Berger presented the main conclusions from this latest study. They confirm that the Northern route has further potential for growth and could triple by 2030 on the basis of an optimistic forecast. Even with less favourable conditions, volumes are expected to double. With the right conditions, the Middle and Southern Corridors could go in the same direction, despite being in the early stages of development currently. Growth will most likely not come from the countries that historically developed the Northern Corridor as for them, the Northern route remains more economical. Growth on the Middle and Southern corridors is likely to come from countries such as Turkey or Iran or Southeast Asia, where the Middle and Southern Corridors are the natural and only rail route to the East.
Four pillars of action will be required to make the Middle and Southern Corridors as successful as the Northern Corridor. Good infrastructure and the requisite political stability will obviously be needed to ensure sufficient reliability and frequency and smooth operations. Financial incentives and collaboration between various stakeholders are the third and fourth prerequisites for driving volume through these routes.
The findings presented by Mr Schwilling were confirmed from different angles during a debate with shippers and operators, as well as during interviews with representatives from various organisations active in this domain. Although more environmentally friendly logistics operations is one of the drivers of the supply chain, Sergio Barbarino of Proctor & Gamble emphasised the importance of reliability to prompt shippers to switch modes. The point made by Yekaterina Ryabushko, who noted that collaboration through the development of integrators capable of overseeing the entire supply chain will be key to success, was widely acknowledged by all participants in the debate. From an institutional perspective, Roel Janssens presented the initiatives being developed by UNECE to bring a number of the countries around the Middle Corridor closer together. A number of concrete steps will be taken in the near future to make real progress in the development of better interoperability. UIC is working with UNECE to make collaboration more tangible, with UNECE working from an institutional point of view and UIC working from the perspective of the rail community.
All of the participants agreed that with the right conditions and the right level of collaboration, the Middle and Southern Corridors can become just as successful as the Northern Corridor, thus contributing to a climate-neutral logistics system.