BRAIN TRAINS: SCENARIO DEVELOPMENT SCENARIOS FOR INTERMODAL RAIL FREIGHT TRANSPORT AND HINTERLAND CONNECTIONS - FROM A SWOT ANALYSIS OF THE BELGIAN RAIL PRACTICE TO SCENARIO DEVELOPMENT
Nominated for The Neil Mansfield Award
Frank Troch, University of Antwerp
A transversal research of the role and influences of rail transport as a part of intermodal transport in Belgium is investigated by building different qualitative scenarios containing the most plausible future developments for this mode of transport.
This paper has its main focus on transversal research of the role and influences of rail transport as a part of intermodal transport in Belgium, with a strong focus on port hinterland flows. It builds different qualitative scenarios, containing the most plausible future developments for this mode of transport. Creating these scenarios allows to explore the evolution of intermodal rail freight, under hypothetical conditions and taking into account the different economic, policy-making and society factors and challenges. In order to capture these market surroundings, a profound SWOT analysis of the current situation is developed, to evaluate the internal and external environment of intermodal rail transport in Belgium.
The SWOT concentrates on five different topics that impact on the economy and society. The scenarios to be developed will take into account a mix of elements from these fields.
• Optimal corridor and hub development. Drayage operations and terminal location decisions are found to be crucial factors in terms of intermodal transport competitiveness. The strategic question of network design has thus to be addressed carefully. In addition to that, a challenging design question is to decide on adequate tolling/subsidizing strategies
• Macro-economic impact of intermodality. There is a considerable correlation between GDP and demand on transport. Rail creates more jobs in the transportation sector and is attracting additional investments in related sectors, such as manufacturing and construction. Rail could also benefit from the increased international trade between Eastern and Western European countries.
• Sustainability impact of intermodality. Rail freight transport is the land-based transport that has a higher environmental performance, compared to intermodal road-rail and all-road transport. Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology allows to model as best as possible the environmental impacts of several pollutants such as CO2, NOx and SOx.
• Effective market regulation for a well-functioning intermodality. The market is moving towards liberalization. This leads to an increase in cost-efficiency and higher competitiveness in the market. There is also a common belief that the transport regulations in the EU states should be harmonized, both on technical specifications and other adjacent legislation such as safety, labor and signaling.
• Governance and organization for a well-functioning intermodality. Over the past 15 years it has been rather difficult to integrate governmental activities in the transport domain. Not only because competences are spread over a multitude of departments and agencies, but also because the different administrations had their own policy priorities and did not recognize the ‘authority’ of other governmental parties. Overall, tasks should be aligned and priority should be given to shared goals in order to create a greater coherence.
The paper mainly focuses on the use of this SWOT analysis to define plausible scenarios for intermodal rail freight developments. As stated by Swart et al. (2004), scenarios can offer a structure or framework to explore and reflect on long-term futures. Some references to the proposed methodology for this approach are the tool built by the European Commission Joint Research Centre (2005) and the study of Lobo et al. (2005). Both use a SWOT analysis for scenario building.
Additional to these frameworks, a survey on the different SWOT elements has been performed, asking a heterogeneous panel of experts to rate each statement on its influence and likelihood of happening. By using frequency tables, the modus and the H-index to define the homogeneity and as such the level of agreement between the respondents, a ranking of the different elements could be created. This allows to differentiate during the creation of the scenarios, between more important and less important parameters, as well as taking into account the possibility that a certain parameter is expected to come true in the future. As a result, some elements become more or less crucial in the different scenarios, creating a clear distinguishment between them. Based on this SWOT analysis, a Delphi-like approach is used, starting with the consortium of the project discussing and creating the draft scenarios. These are presented to the consultation panel, if necessary discussed in multiple rounds, to reach a mutual agreement on the final plausible future developments for intermodal rail transport in Belgium.
In terms of expected results, three or four scenarios are estimated to originate from these discussions. In a next step, the outcomes in each of the five mentioned fields of interest will be calculated. The results will indicate an optimal scenario and eventually lead to the development of a set of indicators.
Association for European Transport