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Workshop on the promotion of intermodal transport - 18 October 2023

18 October 2023 10:00 - 17:00
Palais des Nations Geneva Switzerland

WP.24 held a workshop during its sixty-sixth session on ways to create demand for intermodal transport and to analyze the potential for modal shift.  

The workshop was founded on the premise that intermodal/combined transport can be the solution to carrying freight door-to-door given that it generates fewer external costs to society than other transport modes, yet this premise would only work when, at the same time, there is a business case for intermodal/combined transport and when it is widely known.

In view of the above, the workshop in particular focused on discussing freight transport pricing, reliability, but also knowledge of the advantages and disadvantages of different freight transport operations in the sector and by society at large. The discussion was aimed at exchanging practices and experience and at creating better understanding of the variety of measures to be put at the disposal of the sector to bring a level-playing field to the freight sector, but also about action needed to improve the business case for intermodal/combined transport.

The workshop was kicked off with the presentation by SGKV on the newly developed interactive tools for educating on intermodal/combined transport, and in particular the tool for simulating transport operations by road versus intermodal transport to understand how they compare taking into account carriage price, duration and generation of greenhouse gases (GHG). The concept of the breakeven point for the use of intermodal/combined transport was addressed together with the aspects it depends on.

Two panel discussions were organized building on the simulations presented. The first panel with the panellists from Austria, the Netherlands and Türkiye focused on measures or actions that are or can be taken to create more business-cases for intermodal/combined transport. These measures/actions are often aimed at making the price of intermodal/combined transport more attractive or at making intermodal/combined transport an attractive service.

The second panel, involving HUPAC Intermodal and UIC, discussed in detail the quality and reliability aspects of intermodal/combined transport and ways to improve them. The discussion also hinted at solutions which would not only lead to improved quality or reliability but, at the same time, should improve intermodal/combined transport competitiveness versus road transport.

The following measures and/or solutions were brought forward in discussions:

             Support for rail freight transport: enabling state support to operations of rail in carrying freight.

             Track access charges for rail versus no/limited road transport access charges: enabling state support to decrease track access charges for certain cargo, especially for lower weight consignment or for short distance operation or ensuring successful implementation of road access charges for achieving level playing-field between modes.

             Land use solutions: establishing industrial clusters with easy access to terminals and railway infrastructure resulting in lower charges for first/last mile service.

             Greenhouse gas emission pricing: application of charges on operations generating higher emissions (emitter/polluter pays principle) and, by this, internalizing climate costs and favouring more climate-friendly modes and operations.

             Automation and digitalization: increasing automation and digitalization for further enhancing efficiency in transhipment operations and the running of trains and for improving the rail network as well as intermodal/combined transport capacity without infrastructure expansion.

             Improving rail transport by addressing its main externalities: addressing noise and vibration emissions resulting in better acceptability of rail operations.

             Regulatory measures: imposing obligatory choice of intermodal transport for certain cargo types at specific distances or routes while ensuring that no monopolistic position be exploited.

             Training/coaching on intermodal/combined transport: creating necessary awareness among shippers/freight forwarders of intermodal/combined transport solutions and their business case.

             Regulating data ownership and usage leading to better data integration: simplifying access to data using own data management systems resulting in effective information flows for improved business case.

             Setting common standards: avoiding situations in which standards interoperability decrease productivity (e.g. application of different traffic management system on rail networks).

             Enabling appropriate system capacity: addressing unacceptable carriage duration by eliminating bottlenecks, including at border crossings, resulting in enabling intermodal/combined transport for the carriage of perishable or high-value cargo and leading to enhanced business case for intermodal/combined transport. 

             Fair allocation of capacity at rail network/capacity management based on socio-economic measures: guaranteeing slots for freight trains during high demand periods.

             Improving admission of train drivers to international rail traffic: identifying technological and automation solutions and enabling them through international regulatory framework.

             Increased possibility of spot path slotting/reducing path reservation time: bringing more flexibility to path reservation, allowing for increased capacity to adjust to cargo transport needs.

Following the panels, the secretariat presented an example of use of data on cargo flows and transport volumes and their presentation in the geospatial environment as an initial analysis for identifying connections with the potential for shift from road to intermodal/combined transport.


55364 _ Workshop programme _ 386581 _ English _ 773 _ 401704 _ pdf