Thursday 19 November 2009
Rail Freight

Combined Transport and Globalisation

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The post-crisis challenges will require from rail freight and especially Combined Transport (CT), huge productivity gains and adequate capacity. CT is an asset-based, networking operating industry, and it is needed to focus on improving CT operations.

In that perspective, Eric Peetermans, Chairman of the UIC Combined Transport Group, presented, at the Headquarters of the Association of American Railroads, in Washington, before an audience of US Intermodal executives, experts and civil servants, the feed back of the results of the DIOMIS 2 module dedicated to “Benchmarking Intermodal US-Europe” (this report and the presentation delivered can be down-loaded from the website

As in Europe, US Intermodal is, at – 15% (domestic) to 20% (maritime), hit hard by the recession, although a slight improvement is beginning to be noticed. It is expected to pick up from next spring at faster levels of growth, but it will take US Intermodal at least 3 years to recover the pre-recession peak before moving to higher levels.

The similarities and differences between US Intermodal and European CT described by the DIOMIS benchmarking report were pointed out and discussed.

The benchmarking carried out by DIOMIS and the lively discussion that followed Eric Peetermans’ presentation in Washington showed that, despite the past growth and the future prospects of CT in Europe, US Intermodal is several lengths ahead of Europe in terms of train performance, infrastructure investments for freight and customer focused business models and IT systems.

And finally, in view of the infrastructure aspects highlighted by Eric Peetermans, representatives of the US Department of Transportation declared their interest for a discussion with the EU officials in charge of the TEN-T Corridors. This will be planned for next April.

With representatives of the European Intermodal Association (EIA), the Bureau International des Containers et du Trafic Intermodal (BIC) and the Intermodal Association of North America (IANA, Eric Peetermans discussed also the opportunity, the feasibility and the possible structure of a professional global seminar, with speakers from several continents, about the vital role of the terminals in making the Intermodal connection. The Intermodal trade associations will be attracted and this seminar, focused on operational and interface issues, would be organized at the occasion of the IANA Conference in November next year. If successful, it could be repeated yearly or every two years and hosted in other continents. Through the DIOMIS activities, especially the module on “Best Practices in Terminal Management”, the UIC has already worked a lot on those issues.

And finally, Eric Peetermans presented to a crowded IANA audience, during the annual IANA Conference in Anaheim, the European perspective in preparing for a rapid Intermodal growth, in the face of the critical post-recession challenges. A lively exchange with the audience led to a better understanding of the differences but even more of the common post-recession challenges on both sides of the Atlantic.

For more information please contact Sandra Géhénot:

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