Freight Supply Solutions for International Shipments ? Demand Structure in Norway and Sweden
B Grue, J Ludvigsen, Institute of Transport Economics, NO
A new transport customer survey explores quality requirements underlying mode choices in international European freight transports, where the needs for major shifts from the congested road network to other modes have become highly demanded.
One of the pronounced objectives in EU transport policy is to increase the share of rail in European freight transport, considering the rapidly growing imbalance between modes of transport in the European Union, and especially the problems due to the large and increasing market share of road transport.
This development over the last decades, has contributed to increasing congestion and pollution problems, especially along major trunk roads and in urban areas. Much of this growth stems from international road haulage, and along with the 2010 forecasts of 50 percent increase in freight transport, the needs for major shifts from road to more environmentally friendly modes have become highly demanded. Rail is especially mentioned as candidate mode for taking a larger share of the expected growth.
The paper reports a study on transport users? quality requirements, which is essential knowledge in order to provide new competitive transport solutions in international European transports. So far, very few studies have been reported on this subject.
Explorations of quality requirements are incorporated in subtasks in two international European logistic projects in which the Institute of Transport Economics (TØI) is involved among several scientific and commercial actors. A brief description of the two projects is presented below:
The PolCorridor Logchain Study is a Eureka project which aim at the realization of an efficient rail based freight corridor served by a high-speed shuttle train, linking the Nordic region and the fast-developing markets of South and South-Eastern Europe. The suggested transport corridor will utilise spare capacity on well-developed Central European rail network to efficiently connect the north with the south of Europe.
The PolCorridor network will consist of a sea-land connection between the Nordic countries and Poland and a high-speed freight train, which will travel non-stop between two important hubs for European freight traffic, Szczecin-Swinoujscie harbour in Poland and intermodal terminal in Vienna. The PolCorridor project work has been ongoing since 2002, and the aim is to start operating the first trains during 2005.
REORIENT is a project for the European Commission under the 6th Framework Programme (FP6), starting up in beginning of 2005. One of the important FP6 subjects is Sustainable Surface Transport, of which the REORIENT project covers a broad study of the European rail system with respect to freight transport.
The information on transport quality requirements can not be defined or quantified through official statistical sources, the information from transport providers and customers is essential. Therefore, the quality assessment will be based on data collected by a specially designed survey where both transportation and forwarding companies and transport purchasers will be represented in the sample. In the first phase, carried out within PolCorridor project, this study covers Norwegian and Swedish companies? shipments to and from the European continent. The survey is also planned to be extended within REORIENT project by including several European countries.
The quality survey is implemented as a web survey on the Internet, which is a good medium for interviewing company representatives, as in this case.
The information collected can be divided in the four main categories: 1) background data, 2) markets and products, 3) transport solutions, and 4) shipment routes.
In the transport quality assessment, the fourth category of variables is the most emphasized. The variables containing the information about transport quality are connected to specified shipment routes. This means that shipment route is the unit of analysis, and not the companies in the interview sample. The quality variables connected to the shipment routes can be divided into two groups: benchmarks and quality perceptions. The benchmark data consist of the ?hard facts? about the transport solutions, given in quantified measures, like transit time, goods volume and value, cost of door-to-door transit and deadline for booking. The quality perceptions consist of the respondents? statements of importance and quality evaluation of 23 specified quality dimensions. These variables are measured by valuations on a scale ranking from 1 to 5.
The survey data should be supplemented by some additional information from external sources. Especially relevant for improving the information on transport routes, are GIS data. When we information about origin and destination points are collected from the respondents, GIS calculations based on road and rail network data, will be joined in order to add transport distances both for the actual transport route used, and for alternative routes for comparison.
Additional data are also needed for assessing the representativity of the transports in the survey sample. For this purpose, market assessments based on international trade statistics will be used on a detailed level with regards to commodity types and origin-destination flows. The importance of different quality measures estimated from survey sub-samples can then be evaluated in proportion to the actual demand structure they represent.
The set of variables describing the transport quality is quite complex, and the field of research is not extensively explored. Therefore, it can not in advance be determined with certainty what the best analytical method will be, and three different methods are recommended for implementation: logit model, combination of factor analysis and linear regression, and structural equation modeling (SEM). The different analytical approaches and results will be carried out and discussed.
The study aims to lead to recommendations on quality improvements that are needed in order to shift cargo from road haulage to other modes, with a special view to increasing the competitiveness of the rail system. The main focus is on:
- how current transport solutions perform
- revealing the quality requirements that lie behind the choice of transport mode
- the importance of different quality aspects
The European freight transport market is complex, and variances in quality requirements between different groups of users will be explored, for example:
- Intermodal vs. unimodal shipments
- Division by main transport mode
- Division by commodity types
- Division by company type
- Southbound vs. northbound shipments
- Division by geographical relations
Association for European Transport