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State-of-the-art European rail freight system and future needs

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Dewan Islam


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The current research area is the European rail freight system that includes infrastructure, rolling stock, terminal technology and operations. Applying a system approach, the current develops a vision of an efficient rail freight system in 2050. The total demand for freight in Europe has increased significantly in recent decades, but most of which has been handled by trucks. To fulfil the modal shift targets in the EU White Paper, it is necessary to double rails’ market share from 18% today to at least 36% in 2050. Translating this into reality means rail will have to handle 3-4 volume of cargo than today. The research finds that the current rail freight system has inherited many weaknesses such as priority on passenger train and national - rather than European economic interest-serving. Another important point is that a breakeven rail freight operation requires a longer transport haul which is not abundant in most European countries. Even on a longer (pan-European) haul, rail is not always capable of competing with low-cost trucks. Also the current rail freight system is being run at a slower speed due to, among others, congestion, technical weakness and lower services reliability. The rail freight industry will have to increase capacity; improve service quality with lower or at par (with road) price as well as extend from ‘terminal-to-terminal’ to ‘door-to-door’ service. By identifying the ‘gap’ between ‘current’ and ‘future’ scenarios of the rail freight system, the paper raises some critical issues and recommends steps to be implemented by different actors by 2050.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Islam DMZ, Ricci S, Nelldal B-L

Publication type: Conference Proceedings (inc. Abstract)

Publication status: Published

Conference Name: RailNewcastle Conference 2015

Year of Conference: 2015

Publisher: NewRail