How the Railways Should Solve Europe's Freight Transportation Headaches
NELLDALL L and TROCHE G, Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden
For the past few decades the railway has been losing market shares in freight transportation, despite a rapid and general increase in freight volume. This applies to Sweden as well as to the rest of Europe. Of this increase in volume, the greater part has
For the past few decades the railway has been losing market shares in freight transportation, despite a rapid and general increase in freight volume. This applies to Sweden as well as to the rest of Europe. Of this increase in volume, the greater part has gone to road transport. The reason for this is that our railways have neither been sufficiently customer- oriented and adapted to their markets, nor have they developed themselves enough technically. However, the United States, for instance, do present an obvious example of an adaptable and developed railway network, technically as well as concerning management. The fact that changes could be brought about also in Europe has been demonstrated by the American railway company Wisconsin Central, which (in 1996) took over the then nearly extinct freight traffic in the UK from Bdtish Rail and started to reconstruct it.
If any changes to this general setback are to be achieved at all, measures affecting both transport policy, organisation, and technology must be taken. Just for comparison, let us have a brief look at today's railway situation in Sweden, Europe and the US: In 1995 Sweden had 32 per cent of its domestic freight going on rails, the largest share in Western Europe (in ton-km; excluding foreign shipping), while the European averag e was just 15 per cent. (Germany, for instance, had 18 per cent.) In the US the rail share was 49 per cent - note that this figure has not changed much for quite some time, either; see table 1! Also most notable is the fact that the rail market share of Swedish international transports 1 is just one-half of the domestic one, in spite of its large volumes and distances.
Association for European Transport