Combined Transport: more actions for green objectives

08.06.18 - Daventry, UK. Road and rail freight interaction at Daventry Railport. Photo: Professional Images/@ProfImages

The Commission’s guidelines concerning the European Green Deal’s implementation are comprehensive and necessary. However, the Combined Transport (CT) sector needs to focus on some specific aspects to contribute the maximum in the collective goal. As a result, under the guidance of Logistics Advisory Experts GmbH and the help of Professor of Supply Chain Management, Wolfgang Stölzle, the International Union of Combined Road-Rail Transport Companies (UIRR) brings some new proposals.

The European Green Deal is a political communication about decarbonisation and zero-emissions by 2050 in the EU. UIRR has come up with a road map to help the CT sector enhance its objectives. Under the title ‘Combined Transport in light of the European Green Deal’, the union draws a detailed plan of actions that the CT needs to deliver its goals fully. The road map is divided into four groups: the policymakers, Infrastructure Managers (IMs), Railway Undertakings (RUs), and intermodal operators.

Policy and management

As mentioned above, UIRR defines that four subgroups must undertake the needed actions. Starting from the policymakers, their focus should be on facilitating the work of the CT sector. How could they do it? By, firstly, investing in infrastructure to provide the right environment for operations. Moreover, they should financially support the sector as much as possible in three more ways: reducing the cost of track access charges and introducing distance-based tolls by introducing sufficient subsidies and finally supporting the much-needed innovation.

Following these measures, Infrastructure Managers should also play their role by utilising investments to develop high-quality infrastructure. Furthermore, UIRR insists on the fair distribution of tracks between freight and passenger rail and the support of longer and heavier trains. In simple words, IMs should provide more capacities to rail freight.

Railway companies also urged to act

However, policymakers and IMs are not the only ones responsible for the sustainable future of European transportation and Combined Transport. Railway Undertakings and intermodal operators, thus, the companies who run the tracks, should also contribute their most. RUs need to modernise their operation extensively by becoming more automated, digitised, and using modern technologies such as telematics. Additionally, standardising their assets to become broadly accessible is equally essential.

On their behalf, intermodal operators, apart from enhancing digitalisation, should also heavily invest in three fields: wagon technology, rolling stock and market development. By doing that, intermodal transport will become more efficient and attractive to customers. Consequently, it will also expand the CT sector and provide more space for the sustainable development of transportation.

Reaching a European level

As UIRR concludes, following these additional guidelines, CT will make the European Green Deal more feasible and contribute the most from the side of long overland transport. Nevertheless, the adoption of similar measures by policymakers on a Europan level would mean even more chances to implement the plans quickly and efficiently so that both CT and Europe benefit.

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Author: Nikos Papatolios

Nikos Papatolios is the Chief Editor of, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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Combined Transport: more actions for green objectives |