The EU's Green Deal requires €7.7 billion of investment 16/05/22

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Source: The EU's Green Deal in transport requires €7.7 billion of investment in intermodal - IntermodalNews IntermodalNews


The EU's Green Deal in transport requires €7.7 billion of investment in intermodal

The Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport of the European Union (DG MOVE) carried out an analysis of the efficiency of the different types of intermodal transport and the capacity of the transport infrastructure to take over road freight. Vertical loading was considered the most effective method of introducing units on wagons. At the same time, serious infrastructure constraints were pointed out, which hinder the development of intermodal transport in Europe.

Photo: Pixabay

According to the European Green Deal, 75% of cargo currently transported by car is to be transferred to railway lines and waterways. This means de facto the need to develop intermodal transport. However, is Europe's intermodal infrastructure prepared to receive such a large amount of cargo?

DG MOVE's analysis shows that by 2030 the network of intermodal terminals in the EU will not have sufficient transhipment capacity to handle the planned expansion of the capacity of the rail network. According to the current investment plans, the capacity of transhipment terminals in Europe will increase by 18% by 2030, while the EU strategy for smart and sustainable mobility assumes that by this year the capacity of rail freight transport is to increase by 50% and inland waterway transport by 25%. As you can see, the current plans for intermodal investment in the EU are too modest to meet the strategic objectives for transport. More investment in terminals and sidings will be needed in the coming years.

Adjust the gauge

Another limitation is the railway gauge, which is not adapted to the transport of semi-trailers. Only 48% of the lines that make up the TEN-T network currently allow the P400 to be transported without restrictions in everyday transport operations. Most sections with an extreme not adapted to the P400 profile are in France, Italy and Spain.

Around 60-80% of the capacity of transhipment terminals in the EU currently handles containers and other units using reachstackers or cranes. 20 to 35 % cover ro-ro vessels and only 2 % are other technologies, including systems for loading semi-trailers not adapted to intermodal transport. DG MOVE analysed the effectiveness of the use of different handling technologies and different types of transport units. The cost and time of their transport by rail, inland waterway and road transport were compared. Of the 39 different forms of intermodal transport, 32 are cost-competitive with road transport for journeys of at least 1000 km. However, if we take into account external environmental costs, this distance will be reduced to 600 km, which indicates that it is necessary to internalize the costs of external road transport. Inland waterway transport turns out to be less efficient than rail transport, as it is characterized by a much longer transport time at comparable costs. With a distance of 600 km and without taking into account environmental costs, car transport still turned out to be the cheapest and fastest, although this analysis was carried out before the drastic increase in fuel prices that occurred at the end of February this year, which currently reduces the competitiveness of long-distance road transport.

Necessary investments

In the European Union, between 300,000 and 400,000 swap bodies and about 2.8 million semi-trailers are currently in use. Unfortunately, it is not known how many of these units are adapted to intermodal transport, but it can be assumed that most of them are standard semi-trailers. Therefore, it can be seen that if Europe wants to meet the adopted assumptions of the transport strategy, in the coming years it will be necessary to make huge investments in adapting terminals to handle semi-trailers or replacing units with those adapted to intermodal transport. "The investments required to remove network restrictions, trailer loading gauge, terminals with specific technology are estimated at around €7.7 billion, according to a medium-range scenario," the report said.

Author: Łukasz Kuś