Trans-European Rail Freight Freeways As Catalysts for an Intergrated European Distribution System
EBERHARD C, University of Karlsruhe, Germany
Whereas there is general agreement at European level on the objective of increasing freight on rail and reducing the growth of road freight, progress so far is slow. At a time when the fastest growth is visible in international traffic, the rail freight b
Whereas there is general agreement at European level on the objective of increasing freight on rail and reducing the growth of road freight, progress so far is slow. At a time when the fastest growth is visible in international traffic, the rail freight business in Europe is still predominhntiy organised on a purely national basis. When issuing 6fEEC Directive 91/440, the European Commission had intended to reform the state-owned railway companies to become active actors in open and competitive markets. It demanded the economic independence of railway companies, the separation of infrastructure and operations, third party access to railway networks and not at least a solution of the debt problem of the railways. After six years, it has become clear that most EU member countries have been hesitating to implement the directive in its full scope and have opted for minimal solutions, often only fulfilling the formal requirements. As a result, the railways continue to lose market shares, while innovative logistics concepts rely on the flexibility of the road haulage industry.
The ELI White Paper of July 1996, "A Strategy for Revitalising the Community's Railways" (COM(96)421) , promotes faster international railway operations and a strengthening of intermodal transport systems. As a first step, the paper proposes a network of so-called Trans-European Rail Freight Freeways (TERFF). After a lenghty consultation process, the first "prototype freeways", linking North Sea ports and Italy, were defined and presented to the public. From January 1998 on, infrastructure managers will be responsible for the marketing of each freeway, along which freight trains will operate with increased speeds and drastically reduced border crossing delays.
The implementation of a system of rail freight freeways, on which services can provided by all licensed EU-based railway operators, allowing for fast, frequent and predictable freight transports by rail in shuttle trains along the main axes may act as a catalyst for an integration of warehousing and distribution. There are indications that rail or combined transport (CT, in US/UK terminology known as intermodal transport), so far is hardly fully integrated into the distribution system of producers due to the fact that rail-based services could only be used if accepting the inflexible terms of the national railway companies.
Association for European Transport