Decision Factors Underlying Transport Mode Choice in International European Freight Transport

Decision Factors Underlying Transport Mode Choice in International European Freight Transport


Berit Grue, Johanna Ludvigsen, Institute of Transport Economics, NO


Pilot results from surveying in Norway/Sweden were presented on ETC 2005. In 2006 10 more countries are included. Focus: quality requirements in international freight transport especially Southeastern Europe and mode shift from road to rail.


A pilot study was presented in the Freight and Logistics session of the ETC conference in 2005 under the title ?Freight Supply Solutions for International Shipment ? Demand structure in Norway and Sweden?.
The survey of customers using international European freight transport services has now been extended by several more European countries ? Austria, The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary, Lithuania and Finland.
As the country sample indicates, there is a special focus on transport demand in the fast-developing markets including new and future EU members in South and South-Eastern Europe.
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.

The Institute of Transport Economics (TØI) is involved in two international projects addressing this issue:

The PolCorridor Logchain Study is a Eureka project which develops a concrete, efficient rail based transport alternative in shape of a high-speed shuttle train serving a transport corridor where spare capacity on well-developed Central European rail network is utilised in order to efficiently connect the north with the south of Europe.

PolCorridor?s main rail link runs from Szczecin-Swinoujscie harbour in Poland transiting through The Czech Republic to Vienna, and will offer an efficient eastern alternative for linking the north and south of Europe.

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.

This study focuses on the quality requirements needed for achieving a major shift in mode use from the congested road network to other modes, especially rail. The challenges is connected both to shifting large volumes of current volumes from road as well and offer a competitive alternative to road transport for taking the large growth of South and South Eastern European trade.

Knowledge of the quality requirements underlying the customers? choice of transport solutions is essential for realizing a considerable mode shift in freight transport.

Method and findings
The transport quality requirements are revealed from information on currently used transport solutions. Detailed information on transport quality of international European shipments is collected from transport providers and customers by a specially designed survey.

The data collection is completed by the beginning of 2006, and more than 200 European companies have contributed with quality statements for their international shipments. The unit of analysis is shipment route, and most respondents report data on two different routes that they currently use for imports or exports. The data set thus contains details on almost 400 international European freight shipments.

The shipment routes are described by main outlines, like places of origin and destination, and choice of transport modes and routes, followed by a wide range of transport quality specifications. The quality variables 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.

Based on the route outlines given by the respondent companies, GIS-data are extracted and joined to the survey data. The GIS-data constitute a detailed set of distance measures split on partial route links defined by transport mode, and country of transit. The GIS data imply improved possibilities of more detailed studies on transport conditions connected to specific regions or corridors and by different route distances and transport mode compositions.

In the first phase, carried out within PolCorridor project, a pilot study among Norwegian and Swedish companies was explored.

This study illuminated the multitude and complexity of quality factors that can influence on the choices of transport modes in international freight transport. The results showed that commodity types are behind the quality requirements in many cases. Furthermore, the stated level of service on central indicators of transport displayed that there is a considerable improvement potential for transport efficiency on the routes used by the Norwegian and Swedish respondents.

The extended European sample renders possibilities of more detailed analyses on the differences connected to commodity types, and further look into factors like, for example, company types, shipment size, transport distance, country relation, direction of shipment and different corridors.

In the overland freight transport corridor, the main competitor to the intermodal rail transport is the singlemodal door-to-door truck transport. These two transport solutions will be especially compared with regards to the shipment specifications and appurtenant quality measures.

The logit model is a frequently used analysis technique belonging under a group o methods referred to as discrete choice analyses. It is often used in transport models for predicting choice of mode. This method will be implemented on the total sample of routes combined with market analysis data on total volumes of relevant freight flows. Several scenarios will be modelled in order to see whether effects from changes in one or more quality factors on the transport mode use can be predicted.


Association for European Transport