Frank Troch, University of Antwerp, Thierry Vanelslander, University of Antwerp, Hilde Meersman, University of Antwerp


The paper calculates direct and indirect macro-economic effects of rail freight transport in Belgium through input-output analysis. The result is a multiplier, indicating the change in national output when the rail freight input is increased by one.


The paper has its main focus on the macro-economic effects of rail freight transport, as a part of the intermodal transport chain in Belgium. This research is part of an interdisciplinary project on intermodal rail transport in Belgium, BRAIN-TRAINS. This project concentrates on five different topics impacting on the environment of intermodal rail transport in Belgium: the optimal corridor and hub development, the macro-economic and sustainability impact of intermodality, and an effective market regulation and governance for a well-functioning intermodality. The final objective is to build an operational framework with a set of indicators, helping the users of the model to understand and quantify the effects of future developments and decisions impacting on rail freight transport in Belgium.

These future decisions and developments in the field of intermodal transport and rail freight transport in Belgium have a direct and indirect impact on the national economy, resulting in macro-economic effects. Directly, as any change to the flexibility, availability, reliability or attractiveness of rail freight transport and intermodal transport in general, is changing the demand for rail freight transport services. Indirectly, as this change in direct demand impacts the different relations between the actors involved in rail transportation and the other actors in the rest of the economy. A simple example is, in the case of a rise in demand, the need for more supplies such as electricity, infrastructure and equipment. As such, the direct effects are impacting on the companies providing these services necessary to realize the increased demand. These suppliers are addressing in their turn other indirect actors, such as mining companies to provide the necessary raw materials. These direct and indirect effects of rail freight transport on the national economy can be measured in terms of added value and employment.

The methodology used to calculate these macro-economic effects is derived from the existing national input-output tables and the corresponding input-output methodology. This method calculates the direct and indirect effects in terms of financial relations between the different actors involved. Eventually, a Leontief multiplier per sector is obtained, which can be interpreted as the total increased output for the national economy, when the input in the observed sector, in this research being the segment of rail freight transport, is increased by 1 unit. This multiplier can then be used to calculate the effects on added value and employment. Different from the existing national input-output tables, where rail freight transport is not observed separately but instead incorporated in the broad transport and communication sector, the methodology is now applied to a limited set of actors in Belgium that are active in the sector of rail freight transport. In this way, a disaggregate analysis is performed, investigating the relations between the rail freight sector and the rest of the Belgian economy. The obtained Leontief multiplier in this exercise can be interpreted as the total change in output for the national economy, if one additional input in the Belgian rail freight transport is realized. Similar research has been conducted for the port of Antwerp port relationships (Coppens et. al., 2007). For this research, a partnership with the National Bank of Belgium is set-up. Through this partnership, it is possible to collect the necessary data.


Association for European Transport