Terminal Schavemaker in Kąty Wrocławski. Photo: Schavemaker

High electricity prices Poland hamper international rail freight

The rail freight sector is facing a cost increase in Poland, where electricity prices have gone up. This is a setback for international rail freight carriers, believes Adriaan Roest Crollius of Dutch transport research firm Panteia. For those carriers who operate across Europe, the price surge in Poland means a nullification of the cost decrease in the west, he argues.

Panteia is one of the parties involved in Linked by Rail, a consortium of Dutch and Polish transport and logistics companies which is supported by the Dutch Enterprise Agency as well as the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Warsaw. Their aim is to strengthen rail connections between the Netherlands and Poland.

Roest Crollius will represent the consortium at the RailFreight Summit in Gdansk, where he will explain what can be done to improve the vital rail connection between the countries. The event will also set the stage for bilateral talks between the respective ministries. “This point is certainly on the agenda”, said Roest Crollius.

Growing volumes

Linked by Rail was founded seven years ago. At that time, there were around three direct rail connections between the Netherlands and Poland. “Today, these are around 16 non-stop container shuttle trains per week”, said Roest Crollius. “The movement of trains along this route is significant. The North Sea-Baltic corridor is the second largest TEN-T corridor in terms of volumes. With the rise of the New Silk Road, these volumes are only getting bigger.”

It is hard to say how the project has contributed to this growth, as the consortium is mostly operating in the background. But the aim is definitely to incentivise traffic on the corridor, said Roest Crollius. “On the one hand, we can assume that the market will develop itself. On the other hand, there are things that the government can facilitate; for example, we promote best practices, discuss track access charges etc. We also promote intermodal transport organising trainings for transport and logistics companies.”

45ft containers

A good example of something that was done by the efforts of the Linked by Rail consortium is the possibility to put 45ft containers on a truck for the last-mile transport in Poland. “This used to be a real bottleneck on the corridor. Containerised cargo coming in through the port of Rotterdam mostly arrives in 45ft containers. In Poland, this found a dead at the terminal. Now, the containers can also be transported on the last mile.”

In the Netherlands too things can be done to improve the connection, the consultant argued. “Here we face a capacity shortage for rail freight. Especially when there are diversions on the Betuweroute, which is dedicated for rail freight. In case of diversions, these trains are redirected to go over the Brabant Route, which has limited capacity.

Discussion

“The cost increase of electricity is another one of those obstacles to further growth”, the researcher said. “This measure was implemented in January, to the frustration of rail freight carriers. We will raise this issue with the Polish ministry during our bilateral meetings.”

In addition to a presentation about the Linked by Rail project, Adriaan Roest Crollius will join an interview on stage with Marcel Tijs, Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water and his Polish counterpart Jakub Kapturzak.

This year’s RailFreight Summit is the second edition of the event. Top-level speakers will gather in the intermodal hub to discuss New Silk Road connections and other routes through Poland and Central Europe. Registration is still open. More information about the event can be found on the website.

Author: Majorie van Leijen

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

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