Demand Assessment and Market Analysis for a New Trans-european Rail Transport Corridor

Demand Assessment and Market Analysis for a New Trans-european Rail Transport Corridor


N Fearnley, B Grue, J Ludvigsen, Institute of Transport Economics, NO



This paper describes 1st part of a Eureka project combining EU objectives for increased shares of rail in freight transport, and transport users' needs for an efficient and shortest possible transport solution between markets with large expected future growth.

The project, involving 9 scientific and commercial partners, seeks to develop and commercially validate a new freight supply corridor, ?POL-CORRIDOR?, linking the Nordic countries with southern Europe. The network will consist of a sea-land connection between the Nordic countries and Poland and a high-speed freight train, the ?Blue Shuttle Train?, which will travel non-stop through Poland, the Czech Republic and Austria. Two of the most important hubs for European freight traffic, Swinoujscie harbour in Poland and the intermodal terminal in Vienna, will be connected. One of the competitive advantages of the new supply system will be to deliver cargo quickly as it will be unnecessary to stop at borders.

Another advantage will result from the utilisation of existing rail infrastructure in Poland, the Czech Republic, Austria and Hungary that is largely unused in central Eastern European countries (CEECs).

A third advantage will stem from the possibility to provide environmentally friendly and cost-efficient services compared to the existing parallel Trans-European corridors through Germany which cause concerns with regard to cost and quality because of a growing capacity constraints.

As a first phase of the project, the commercial opportunities of the Blue Shuttle Train are determined, the quality of current rail services is assessed, and existing feeder-connections are evaluated. This involved the following tasks
* Assessment of the quality of service required by logistical operators, shippers and consignees.
* Assessment of freight volumes currently shipped.
* Forecast of freight volumes.
* Assessment of quality of service required.

Our paper reports on the methods used for the demand assessment, and the key findings.

The demand assessment for the Blue Shuttle Train has involved different methodological approaches, which partly complement each other and partly overlap in order to serve as a test for quality and consistency of findings.

Benchmarks of Competitive Corridors & Modes:
In order to gain market shares POLCORRIDOR must deliver levels of service quality that at least match those of the competing modes and corridors. A benchmark is a performance level that can be regarded as a minimum requirement for gaining market shares. The project is developing a set such of key indicators, which are found to be the most important determinants of transport solution choice.

Analysis of national statistics:
Official statistics for international trade are complete register data sources covering all exchange of goods between countries, and can therefore constitute a reliable and consistent background material for the assessment of the current demand for freight movement in an international transport system like POL-CORRIDOR. The Nordic international trade and transportation statistics, which cover both exports and imports, have been found to be the most reliable and comprehensive statistical sources. The present situation and the developments over the recent years are covered. In several countries the national external trade statistics need to be combined with other data sources to assess the current freight flows in more details. Other available data sources that are combined with the statistics for trade between countries are:
* Official transport statistics for different transport modes
* Customs data
* Statistics from rail operators, harbours and ferry companies
* International Flow/Transport Surveys (e.g. Swedish and Finnish Goods Flow Surveys, Norwegian and Swedish Truck Carriage Survey)

Important variables in the trade statistics are, in addition to origin and destination countries, the volumes and/or value of the traded goods specified by commodity group.

The most relevant freight volumes transferable to the Blue Shuttle Train, are assumed to be the land transport flows, which implies for Italy and Greece, that we regard the northern parts of these countries most interesting in first round. Future upgrading of rail infrastructure and Ro-Ro connections can make also southern parts more accessible. Today ship transport is a strong competitor to/from southern Italy and Greece.

Freight forecasting: Expectations for growth in external trade and freight transport is of crucial importance for the blue Train?s business case. Two main approaches have been combined. Firstly, an analysis of expected growth in aggregate national indicators, like private consumption and total value of exports/imports in the relevant countries. Secondly, a European freight forecasting model, SCENES, has been applied.

Questionnaire / Customer Survey: The POL-CORRIDOR project also conducts its own Customer Demand Survey among companies with transports between relevant countries. Results from this questionnaire will give more detailed route choices (including choice of hubs and transport modes) on the relevant country relations. The route descriptions will be combined with evaluation of quality of performance and the importance of several quality aspects connected to the transport chain.

Market Potential for Blue Shuttle Train: In-depth analyses of current freight volumes and recent development (1999-2002) in transport between countries of relevance for the new train freight corridor between the Nordic region and South-Eastern parts of Europe. The study includes evaluations of goods types and transport mode choices, and subsequent extractions of most relevant flows to be transferred to the shuttle train. The freight models and other forecasting tools indicate large expected growth in international trade in the relevant countries. Adjustment to EU policy in candidate countries is the main driver for this.

Operational & Commercial Viability of the 'Blue Shuttle Train' Services: Quality indicators have been gathered from today?s most used transport solutions and on the basis of evaluations from business informants. The freight market is clearly very competitive and customers demand a high-quality product. Blue Shuttle Train must deliver a reasonably priced, high quality product to be viable. This applies to all the parts of the logistic chain.

The necessary volumes, in % of current flows, needed for the Blue Shuttle Train to start as a commercially viable product, is assessed.


Association for European Transport