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Triple rail freight demand by 2050 in EU27- realistic, optimistic or farfetched imagination?

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Dewan Islam, Ross Jackson, Dr Tom ZunderORCiD


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The reason for the research: The paper presents a rail freight forecast up to 2050 for the EU27. For this, three scenarios are considered; a) Reference Scenario – extrapolation of current trends without major policy change; b) White Paper 2011 Low Scenario (WPLS) based on a pessimistic view of modal shift targets and c) White Paper 2011 High Scenario (WPHS) based on a full realisation of modal shift targets. All three scenarios assume that the rail network remains the same. Methodology: Research combined both qualitative and quantitative methods. Qualitative research includes identification of main trends: a) general trends (GDP, population, fuel prices etc.); a) transport and logistics trends; and c) rail sector specific trends and developments, emphasising on the rail freight developments. Quantitative research focuses on a two step forecasting process. The freight model TRANS-TOOLS consisting of a sequential trade module, modal split module and a logistics module, forecasts transport demand up to 2030. Then, beyond 2030, meta-models support demand projections up to 2050 using trend extrapolations. Expected results: According to the Reference Scenario the total freight demand in tonnes will grow on average by 1.53% per annum, almost doubling the total demand in 2050. For the WPLS, the total demand increases moderately (20%) compared to Reference scenario. On the other hand, the average growth rate increases significantly for the WPHS, with substantial impact on modal split and an overall doubling of rail freight demand, again compared to 2050 Reference results. In addition, for WPHS, there is a strong shift to long-distance rail transport, contrary to the other two scenarios. The split between the different commodities also changes radically after the adoption of the WPHS. Research suggests that there will be a shift from the transportation of energy products to; building materials, chemicals, automotive parts, intermodal, agricultural and foodstuff products. Potential for implementation: The potential for implementation is high, as the research will help the direct stakeholders to prepare the transport system for the future. Impact on railway business: The impact for the rail freight sector is significant, as the freight forecast provides inputs to determine the future infrastructure and rolling stock requirements. What is new about the research: This is a first attempt in the EU27 to estimate rail freight demand up to 2050 based a full and partial realisation of the EU 2011 White Paper objectives for modal shift. The freight forecast is a unique effort to help rail freight businesses such as operators, rolling stock manufacturers and leasing companies plan for a 2050 rail future. Potential for International Collaboration: Global actors must plan ahead and work together to achieve modal shift to rail.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Islam DMZ, Jackson R, Zunder TH, Laparidou K, Burgess A

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: World Congress on Railway Research 2013

Year of Conference: 2013