Partnering Deals and Efficient Border Arrangements the Key to Growth of European Rail Freight
MARSAY A, Symonds Group, UK
Part of the mystique of the Channel Tunnel fixed rail link has been an unspoken assumption in parts of the railway industry that the intrinsic network character of railway systems would lead to the realisation of very substantial growth in rail traffic, o
Part of the mystique of the Channel Tunnel fixed rail link has been an unspoken assumption in parts of the railway industry that the intrinsic network character of railway systems would lead to the realisation of very substantial growth in rail traffic, once the adjacent national networks were connected.
The reality is that there is a great difference between the potential for such network traffic growth, and the realisation of such effects. Many factors other than the existence of a physical connection influence the extent to which the potential traffic is actually realised, including:
* the willingness and ability of the respective rail system managers to institute the necessary administrative and timetabling arrangements to facilitate connecting services to/from the new link;
* the willingness and ability of train operators (especially if different to the system managers, above), to offer competitively priced services to meet the potential demand.
Of course the European Commission (EC) is seeking to address these problems through its Directives on open access and on fair pricing. In the long term there will not be a great future for international rail freight if the provisions of these Directives are not properly implemented throughout the EU. But what of the short term? How is the trend of decline, (in market share if not in absolute terms), of international rail freight to be arrested?
This paper argues, in the context of rail freight services, that partnering deals amongst operators and improved administrative arrangements at border crossings may often be more effective in achieving traffic growth, than official attempts to define transnational operating frameworks. In making this point, the paper draws together four strands of evidence:
* the findings of a UK-cnntinent rail freight modelling exercise undertaken by the Symonds Group in 1996;
* the key conclusions of a study by Symonds for Directorate General VII (DG VII), on ways of overcoming the technical constraints to the interoperability of national conventional rail networks;
* the international rail freight experiences of a maj or European motor manufacturer;
* details of some successful bilateral rail freight partnering agreements.
Association for European Transport