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How to make modal shift from road to rail possible in the European transport market, as aspired to in the EU Transport White Paper 2011

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Dewan Islam



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Abstract Introduction The total demand for freight transport in Europe has increased significantly in recent decades, but most of it has been handled by road transport. To fulfil the modal shift targets set in the EU White Paper 2011, it will be necessary to double rail’s market share from today’s 18 %, by 2050. Translating this into reality means rail will have to handle 3 to 4 times the cargo volume it does today. With this in mind, the paper develops a vision of an efficient rail freight system in 2050.Methodology To achieve the above objective, the research applies literature survey and group discussion methodology and applying a system approach. Keeping on board the EU Transport White Paper 2011 modal shift targets, as well as future freight demand and customer requirements, the current research attempts to answer the following three critical questions: How can rail offer the quality of service that will attract customers and fulfil the targets? How can rail offer its customers a price that is competitive with road? How can rail offer the capacity to meet the increased demand from modal shift? Results The authors find that the service quality can be improved by better planning, application of appropriate ICT-systems and adoption of an integrated supply chain approach. A more customer-orientated service can also be achieved by further deregulation of rail. There is also an urgent need for a faster implementation of Rail Freight Corridors (RFC). As well as liner trains, future rail freight services should be offering end-point trains, with semi/ fully automated loading/unloading equipment in hub-terminals, as well as terminals at sidings to improve the availability of intermodal operation.Conclusion To offer a competitive price and reliable service, a reduction in operating costs will be vital by implementing a number of measures, including operation of heavier and longer trains, wider loading gauge, higher average speed, and better utilisation of wagon space and all assets. This will bring increased capacity, as well as better timetable planning, signalling systems and infrastructure improvements.

Publication metadata

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

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: European Transport Research Review

Year: 2016

Volume: 8

Issue: 3

Print publication date: 01/09/2016

Online publication date: 07/06/2016

Acceptance date: 17/05/2016

Date deposited: 13/06/2016

ISSN (print): 1867-0717

ISSN (electronic): 1866-8887

Publisher: Springer


DOI: 10.1007/s12544-016-0204-x


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