Road-Rail Combined Transport: America shows the example 09/07/15

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Road-Rail Combined Transport: America shows the example


The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported[1] in 2014 a historic record for the number of consignments carried via Rail Intermodal, the equivalent of Road-Rail Combined Transport in Europe on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.  The 13,5 million consignments shipped is nearly 60% higher than what European Combined Transport achieved.  What is there to learn from this in Europe?


While the economic crisis caused a dip in Rail Intermodal transport in the USA, it quickly rebounded and returned to its robust, pre-crisis growth dynamic.  Subsequently, the sector reached a new historic record in 2014 by transporting 13,5 million consignments.

Considering that the USA's rail infrastructure is nearly the same in length as that of the European Union (while its population is a third smaller, its land area twice as large and its GDP about the same) one may logically wonder: why is the EU not capable of the same performance?

This question is especially valid as we prepare for the mid-term review of the European Commission's Transport White Paper, which foresees a major modal-shift from long(er) distance trucking towards more sustainable modes of transport[2], to contribute materially to the reduction of EU transport's carbon footprint.


Intermodal loading units[3] conform best to the preferred unit of shipment of a vast majority of economic sectors, the truckload.  And Combined Transport offers the most efficient industrialised method of transhipment between the various modes that make up an intermodal transport-chain.  Hence one must wonder: why is European CT not up to par with its US counterpart today?


- to learn the answers to these questions please download the statement below



[2] Electric rail, inland waterways (IWW) and short sea shipping (coastal navigation)

[3] Containers, swap-bodies and semi-trailers

Related documents
Joint Statement EN