Intermodal transport: developing in EU but electricity costs could have negative consequences 13/02/22

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Intermodal transport is developing in Europe, but electricity costs could have negative consequences

According to a report by UIRR - International Union for Combined Freight Transport, at European level, intermodal transport increased by 4.5% in Q4 2021. However, the development of combined freight transport at European level is threatened by the increase in electricity costs. .

The positive results for the 4th quarter come on a solid basis of year-round growth, and “performance would have been even better if the cancellation of trains and operational delays caused by the numerous disruptions that occurred as a result of uncoordinated work in Germany and France could have been avoided, ”said Ralf-Charley Schultze, Director General of UIRR.

According to the UIRR, for the next 12 months, the indicators are positive in terms of the evolution of combined freight and new connections. Unfortunately, these optimistic prospects could be undermined by the insufficient infrastructure capacity provided by intermodal trains, reduced punctual performance and rising electricity prices.

Quarter 4, dominated by rail freight disruptions

The fourth quarter of 2021 was dominated by significant disruptions to rail freight traffic. "Regarding the lack of coordination of infrastructure works throughout Germany, the intermodal sector reacted and requested support from both the railway infrastructure manager and the Ministry of Transport, without immediate effect. Intervention at European level is needed because Member States are announcing new major investment plans for railway infrastructure, ” says Ralf-Charley Schultze.

And while these investments are welcome, rail and rail passenger cohabitation is not well enough regulated. As a result, the level of quality of rail freight services is deteriorating, and this could reverse the progress made in recent years by cross-border intermodal freight transport.

Rising electricity prices threaten the development of intermodal transport


"An action plan is needed for rail freight . New prices for traction electricity, applicable from 2022, have been announced in several Member States, which has caused major concern among rail freight customers. The growth rate in some cases reaches 300% compared to the price in 2021 .

The reasons, beyond the general increase in energy prices, are the incomplete implementation of energy market liberalization that prevents companies from self-sufficiency in energy, the purchase of electricity by some infrastructure managers without any coverage to protect carriers from possible fluctuations. and inadequate application of EU energy aid instruments by some governments. While electrified rail freight is most efficient, traction energy remains a major component of costs.

Without a timely and efficient intervention, the result will be a change of modes of transport in the opposite direction, as some shippers will most likely choose road freight transport, which offers cheaper spot fares for the time being, " said the president. UIRR.