Switching long-distance freight from road transport is seen as important in improving traffic congestion, the environment and security of oil supply. However, the transfer to other modes requires attractive and cost-competitive new services to be provided, crossing the intermodal interfaces. In turn, this requires new types of operator and/or co-ordination between service providers along the transport chain. Various barriers and market imperfections will need to be overcome, in several cases through policy action at a European or national level.
PROMOTIQ aimed to identify the opportunities and barriers for companies seeking to develop a new generation of door-to-door multi-modal transport services, and propose guidelines for their introduction to the market.
Through a series of case studies, PROMOTIQ made a detailed analysis of (a) current trends, (b) opportunities for new intermodal services, and (c) barriers to these services, for each of six promising market segments:
- rail traction;
- short distance (<300km) intermodal transport;
- small shipments in intermodal transport;
- segments where quality (speed, reliability etc.) is at a premium;
- integration of air transport into multi-modal chains;
- short sea shipping.
An Action Plan was devised, recommending policy changes at European and Member State levels to promote intermodal transport in each of the six segments. Each policy action was characterised according to its objective, the responsible stakeholders, time scale for implementation and estimated cost.
PROMOTIQ concluded that deregulation and competition are the key to new intermodal services, with the shippers and transport providers developing joint operations.
Proposed priorities for policy changes are:
- early moves towards the fair and efficient pricing regimes already proposed by the EC (e.g. for track access and terminal use);
- establishing a pan-European regulator for intermodal transport (with the task of harmonising market liberalisation and access to infrastructure in the EU Member States);
- encouraging public-private partnerships along the transport chain, particularly involving door-to-door shippers;
- providing limited subsidies for new and improved intermodal infrastructure;
- establishing and promoting standards (e.g. for loading units, electronic data interchange and harmonised procedures/documentation at transhipment points and border crossings);
- allocating further funding to research and development, particularly concerning information systems and technologies for faster transhipment;
- continuing the EC PACT Programme for pilot actions in combined transport, with specific targeting of the market segments identified by PROMOTIQ as being promising;
- organising roundtable meetings between stakeholders in each Member State, tasked to identify and remove barriers to intermodality.
Specific recommendations for individual market segments were to:
- ensure full and uniform liberalisation of rail track access across all Member States;
- set up a fair and open system under which different operators can bid for capacity (railway slot allocation);
- ensure adequate priority is given to freight trains (in competition with passenger services), by setting up rules or establishing freight freeways;
- improve the quality and capacity of rail links, and add rail links to major airports;
- promote short sea shipping and improve its quality (e.g. through harmonisation of opening hours, operating procedures and equipment).