Rail freight volumes still in Covid mode says CER
The European rail freight volumes have not fully recovered from the losses caused by the two-year-long Covid pandemic. Despite fluctuations from time to time, rail freight volumes in March 2022 were 10 per cent less than in the same period in 2019.
The volume numbers are reported by CER’s Crisis Impact Tracker for April 2022, mentioning that “while rail traffic is growing, the effects of the Covid crisis can still be seen in railway activity in Europe, with volume and revenue losses continuing”.
Energy costs complicate things
However, the association emphasised that there is a paradox around financial losses. The situation proves to be quite complicated, with the market sending mixed signals. Specifically, CER explained that “volumes almost reached pre-crisis levels in December, but they dropped again in March to -9 per cent. However, revenues almost stabilised to their pre-crisis level between December 2021 and March 2022”.
In practice, this means that while volumes drop, the revenues of rail freight companies are growing or at least stabilising. But how is this possible? CER stressed that revenue is retained due to increased energy costs reflected in the final price of services that create a virtual image of financial growth. Nevertheless, this could prove a trap since the operators’ margins do not grow, meaning that volume and revenue decreases are going hand in hand after all.