Railway freight transport - report from consultations


Duration and cost of freight transfer are the main barriers of the railway freight transport. Such is the outcome from opinions gathered by the Office of Rail Transport (Pol. Urząd Transportu Kolejowego, UTK) and published in the "Report from the consultations with organisations representing the users of railway freight transport services". These consultations were carried out in 2019.

For senders and recipients of freight the deciding factors influencing the choice of the given freight transport mode have been the following: duration, cost and access to loading infrastructure. During the consultations with organisations representing the users of railway freight services barriers have been identified, which hinder a more effective use of railways and also cause the road transport to take over a considerable freight volume of transported goods. The problems, which arise for the railway users, have been classified in these areas:

  1. Systemic barriers.
  2. Operational barriers.
  3. Condition of railway infrastructure.

- The analysis shows that many problems could be solved directly by the undertakings operating in the railway market - admits Mr. Ignacy Góra, Ph.D., the President of the Office of Rail Transport (Pol. Urząd Transportu Kolejowego, UTK). - Of importance remains cooperation based on the access to information and its appropriate flow between the carrier, applicant and infrastructure manager. Such cooperation may take advantage of cross-sectional and complex solutions serving the freight transfers using different modes of transport - he adds.

Consultations with stakeholders, who use railway freight transport in their logistic processes, have confirmed that main market barriers remain connected with basic economic parametres - duration and cost of transfer. Both of these barriers stem directly from the third one - condition of railway infrastructure and the timetable proposed by the infrastructure manager. The consulted stakeholders have indicated that under certain conditions railway freight transport is able to win the competition with road transport. One of the conditions is undoubtedly the certainty of delivery time - if a delivery reaches its destination on time, then further logistical activities may be planned accordingly - f.e. freight cargo collection at the terminal or at a siding, transfering of the freight cargo onto the previously ordered road transport vehicle, which will be delivered within the last mile distance to its destination point. The entire process, especially its shortening, means the decrease of operating costs.

Companies, which have been consulted, confirm that making traffic capacity, getting rid of bottlenecks, increase of speed, permissible train length and axle load will influence the level of rail freight competitiveness against road transport. Transfer times will shorten, certainty of deliveries as scheduled will rise and no additional costs will be generated, what leads to the road transport being chosen more often than railway freight transport.

The President of UTK once every 2 years organises consultations with interested parties which represent passengers and companies using rail freight transport services. The published report embraces the outcome from the 2019 consultations with the representatives of the railway freight transport market. The main source of information were direct interviews with associations of rail freight transport users. Additional information came from questionnaires sent to these stakeholders. There were also direct consultations held by way of direct meetings, videoconferences and telephone conversations. Information gathered this way has allowed for the preparation of this publication.

The report is available for download on UTK's website at this address.

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