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Recent trends in intermodal transport

At its session on 6-7 November 2012, the International Union of Road/Rail Transport Companies (UIRR) has informed the Working Party as follows:

•    The 18 UIRR companies undertake around half of all international intermodal road-rail transport operations in Europe.
•    Until 2008 they have recorded annual growth rates of 6–7 per cent.  2009 saw a dramatic decline in traffic (-17%). In 2010 traffic increased again by 8%.
•    In 2011, unaccompanied and accompanied transport continued to grow by 6%, amounting to total shipments in the order of 3.21 million consignments or 6.43 million TEU equivalents (5.58 million TEU for unaccompanied and 0.85 million TEU for accompanied traffic).  Thus, post-crisis levels had now again been attained in terms of shipments and even surpassed in terms of ton-km.
•    In 2011, unaccompanied traffic increased by 8%. Accompanied road-rail transport decreased by 5%, mainly due to very important reductions in national traffic in Austria and Switzerland.
•    In 2011, international intermodal road-rail traffic, two-third of which passes across the Alps, increased by 10%, amounting to 3.89 million TEU, whereas national traffic stagnated at 2.56 million TEU.
•    In 2011, 94% of intermodal road-rail transport operations were carried out over distances of more than 300 km. The average distance for such traffic was 600 km.  In international traffic the average distance went up to 900 km.
•    In the first half of 2012, intermodal road-rail traffic continued to grow. However, this upward trend was already slowing down in the second half of 2012 and the performance outlook is bleak as economic growth in Europe is negatively affected by the economic down-turn and the austerity measures taken in several European countries. 
•    Another factor hampering intermodal transport is the increase in prices for rail haulage in spite of still unsatisfactory performance: Around 30 per cent of intermodal transport trains still arrive later than scheduled and more than 20 per cent are delayed by 3 to 24 hours.
•    The traffic interruptions on the Brenner (rehabilitation) and Gotthard (rock slide) in summer 2012 did not seem to have a noticeable negative impact on intermodal transport services, except for accompanied transport (Rolling Road) that was severely hampered by the partial closure of the Brenner route.

More detailed information is available in the 2012 report of the Working Party.