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”.

Rail freight revenue/volume losses. Source: CER.

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.

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Author: Nikos Papatolios

Nikos Papatolios is editor of RailFreight.com, the online magazine for rail freight professionals.

1 comment op “Rail freight volumes still in Covid mode says CER”

bönström bönström|30.05.22|12:51

Even worse, I am afraid, that market share visavi the on road trucks contemporarily has been reduced…
Regardless if, but for a rail freight gain, now capacity at existing infrastructure has to be awarded a susbstantial growth…
(Ongoing reinvestments should allow for added axial load, etc.
Simply for reduced costs the global devices, by air and by sea, both decisively add load capacity. So should the railways. 32,5 ton axial load already should be a min. Bottlenecks shall be outed!)

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