Open letter - Coronavirus crisis: safeguarding intermodal rail transport as a strategic asset for the economy 11/03/20

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Letter to the Italian institutions
Letter to the European institutions

Coronavirus crisis: safeguarding intermodal rail transport as a strategic asset for the economy

The coronavirus crisis has serious repercussions on Italian and European logistics chains. Today, Italy is in the front line. The restrictions imposed by the government on 8/9.3.2020 do not directly limit freight transportation, but nevertheless they have significant effects on logistics and the economy. It is precisely at this time that further restrictive actions could be taken to protect public health in Italy and other European countries.
The European dimension deserves particular attention, considering the industrial interdependence of the companies on our continent and the rapid extension of the epidemic in many countries. The Italian economy is closely linked to the markets of Central and Northern Europe. If the flows of goods do not work, there is a risk of the collapse of the entire economy.
In this context rail transport, both intermodal and conventional, plays a strategic role, as it moves large quantities of goods over long distances, with fixed and monitorable routes, and with a limited use of staff that can be easily controlled from a health point of view.

Intermodality in figures
In Italy, the volume of goods transported by rail amounts to 97 million tonnes per year, including 60 million with the type of intermodal road/rail transport. Particularly relevant is the international share, with 62 million tons in import/export.  
The commodity covers both the supply of private individuals (medicines, fuels, food) and industrial production (raw materials, semi-finished products).

A safe system
Intermodal rail transport uses the rail mode for long distances and the road for final distribution.
It is a closed, easily controllable, traceable and adjustable system, based on a reduced number of terminals. Since the beginning of the coronavirus emergency, the various actors in the logistics chain have adopted a series of measures to protect the health and safety of the people involved in the production processes, implementing and often anticipating the indications of the authorities.
Today, leading companies in the logistics sector are shifting a significant amount of goods to rail in order to reduce the mobility of people (drivers) across Europe. This happens especially in the north-south corridor for traffic to/from Italy. Consider that on rail transport a train crew (maximum 2 people) moves 40 semi-trailers, while a transhipment terminal that handles 20 pairs of trains daily, uses 60 railway staff to move goods that would otherwise require 800 truck drivers.

“Contactless” intermodal management
The measures taken by intermodal transport actors make it possible to comply with the new rules. There is relative certainty that the opportunities for contagion are reduced to a minimum.

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Related documents
Open Letter Intermodal Rail Transport Coronavirus EN
Lettera Aperta Trasporto Ferroviario Intermodale Coronavirus IT