‘Combined Transport requires specific standards and regulations’

CFL's fleet

There should be a specific TSI on combined transport. This regulation should cover infrastructure, operation, traffic management and rolling stock subsystem aspects relevant for the interoperability of Intermodal Loading Units. That is the main conclusion of the CACTUS study, a comparative analysis on Combined Transport usages and standards carried out by rail associations UIC and UIRR.

There should be more specific standards and regulations applicable to combined transport, which is now organised through different and not always aligned regulations and standards (TSIs, EN, IRS, ISO, etc.), the study concludes. As a comparative analysis, the CACTUS project developed recommendations to eliminate gaps, overlaps and contradictions. The work was ommissioned by the European Union Agency for Railways (ERA).


Regulations and standards define the design/testing requirements for Intermodal Loading Units (ILUs) and set out the conditions for the compatibility of ILUs with the different transport modes and for their transhipment in terminals. As a key recommendation, the study calls for the creation of a specific TSI on combined transport.

The study also proposes to include relevant combined transport operating methods as described in UICs IRSs, in the existing TSI on wagons (WAG TSI). And, CACTUS proposes to revise the Directive 96/53/EC, as amended by EU Directive 2015/719, to define semi- trailers suitable for transport by rail as intermodal loading units. It is also about the revision of a number of ILU-related EN standards and the introduction of the new updated requirements of cross-referencing between standards. This should allow to eliminate overlaps, contradictions and deficiencies, UIC and UIRR state.

Groundwork for policymakers

This effort by UIC and UIRR provides a groundwork for policy makers who are developing the long-awaited revised Combined Transport TSI. This was confirmed by Ralf-Charley Schultze, president of UIRR: “CACTUS is a thorough work executed by the two organisations, UIRR and UIC. We hope it will inspire ERA and DG Move to proceed with the TSI on combined transport. The recommendations as developed in this study should be reflected in the new initiatives taken by ERA and DG Move. Interoperability is on its way, what we need now is European harmonisation”.

The relevance and importance of the study was also highlighted by Eric Lambert, chairman of the special Combined Transport Group of UIC: “Combined transport is already important for rail but has proven to be a market segment with great potential. Smoothly aligned operations are therefore of prime importance for the operators.”

Author: Majorie van Leijen

Majorie van Leijen is the editor-in-chief of RailFreight.com, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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