TSL industry's expectations from the combined transport directive amendment 19/12/23

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Source: https://intermodalnews.pl/2023/12/19/jakich-zmian-oczekuje-branza-tsl-w-nowelizacji-dyrektywy-o-transporcie-kombinowanym/


What changes does the TSL industry expect in the amendment to the Combined Transport Directive?

Author: Łukasz Kuś


The amendment to the Combined Transport Directive presented last month contains several changes that will significantly increase the availability of public support for this type of sustainable transport services. However, organizations associating intermodal carriers and operators warn against the introduction of overly complicated regulations and administrative procedures that may discourage business from intermodal transport.

Amendment to the Directive on combined transport presented by the European Commission on November 7 this year. is the fourth element of the "Greening Freight Transport" legislative package, which is intended to accelerate the decarbonization of freight transport. The new directive aims to adapt EU intermodal transport regulations to the contemporary economic and technological realities of this industry. The EC also wants to clarify certain ambiguities in the current definitions formulated in the 1992 directive. The amendment will also allow for an increase in the scope of intermodal transport services, which will meet the criteria for the definition of combined transport, and thus will be able to benefit from various forms of preferences and public support. The EC also wants to increase the effectiveness and volume of compensatory state aid.

Read also:The European Commission presented a draft of the new Directive on combined transport

New calculator

One of the elements of the current directive that is most criticized by entrepreneurs and lawyers is the ambiguous definition of the "closest suitable terminal". It is unclear who can determine which terminal is most appropriate. Worse still, this definition means that only one service in a given area meets the criteria for the definition of combined transport, which makes these services inflexible. This is contrary to modern concepts of intermodal transport, the so-called "physical Internet", which assumes that cargo from point A to B can be transported on different lines through different terminals.

The proposed amendment will replace the concept of "closest suitable terminal" with a combined transport calculator based on digital tools and decades of research on the external costs of freight transport. The calculator will calculate differences in external costs between individual modes of transport. This solution was positively received by industry experts, although they warn that thorough analyzes should be carried out before implementing such a tool. UIRR announces its comments on the combined transport calculator and new definitions.

Changes in the right direction

Several of the proposed legislative changes were positively assessed by the industry. First of all, including transport within one country in the definition of combined transport. This is important for large EU Member States such as Poland, which have many potential domestic combined transport opportunities. The second expected change is the inclusion of the transport of empty containers from and to depots in the definition of combined transport. The EC also wants transport units to meet ISO6346 or EN13044 standards.

The introduction of an exception from various truck driving bans (e.g. on Sundays and holidays) for trucks carrying out first and last mile transport as part of combined transport was also positively assessed. The obligation to publish information on intermodal terminals was also welcomed, and the UIRR plans to present its recommendations on the content and form of this information. An important change is also the definition of a specific goal to support the development of door-to-door combined transport by Member States.

UIRR announces the presentation of its proposals for changes to the draft amendment. In particular, regarding the implementation of ISO6346, EN13044 standards, obligations to develop combined transport development plans by Member States and administrative activities related to supporting combined transport.

— The UIRR will continue to explore solutions to improve the combined transport calculator proposed by the Commission to replace the current definition of combined transport operations. In principle, it is commendable to recognize the solid external cost performance of combined transport compared to its single-modal road alternative in achieving transport policy objectives. However, the rapid evolution of the legal framework on external costs as well as the technical implementation through the IT infrastructure set out in the Electronic Freight Transport Information (eFTI) Regulation should be carefully considered. In the coming weeks, the UIRR will publish a separate position on this matter, the organization wrote.

Carriers' concerns

Some of the EC's proposals were criticized by the International Road Transport Union IRU. According to this organization, the Commission has not explained how the external costs of transport will be defined and calculated. According to the IRU, linking support for combined transport to external costs will slow down the reduction of exhaust emissions in road transport if it is subject to complicated administrative procedures. The IRU also criticizes the slow implementation of the eFTI platform, which may delay the availability of incentives for combined transport.

— Additional complexity and legal uncertainty may not convince road hauliers to increase their use of combined and intermodal transport and the proposal may therefore fail to achieve the goal of decarbonising freight transport and logistics. In real life, it is about efficient transport, cooperation and complementarity between transport modes. Lawmakers should remember this when setting rules, instead of tying together different modes and creating artificial hierarchies detached from everyday reality. Better cooperation between different modes of transport is necessary and to make this possible, we need a modern legal framework at EU level, concluded Raluca Marian, Director of EU Advocacy at IRU.