chapter  7
12 Pages

Rail-Freight Operations

She pointed out that even in its core market, that is long haul, the railways only have a market share of about 5 per cent. The average length of international routes served by private European goods train operators is 800-850 kilometres. Two-thirds of this total is generated on transalpine routes, and not because of the efficiency of the rail-based services, but because of extraneous factors (i.e. topography, and fiscal and regulatory measures in Switzerland and Austria, etc.). Furthermore, she went on to explain that intermodal trains are not particularly fast. Even in the case of premium quality block trains or shuttles, mean speeds, including halts en route, are only 45-55 kilometres per hour (kph) and that is without including the time between the handover of the load units at the point of departure to their handover to the consignee at the other end. ‘In comparison’, she said:

trucks manage average speeds of between 60 and 70 kilometres/hour, depending on the route and time of day. It is this difference that counts against the railways. As far as reliability is concerned, Europe’s railways have really left the intermodal operators out in the cold in recent years with miserable on-time arrival rates of 40-50 per cent. Today one is relieved when punctuality rates of 90 per cent are achieved by Kombi-Netz 2000 services and with rates of 80-90 per cent on the Brenner Pass route – thanks to intermodal operators themselves seizing the initiative with a few well-managed services. In contrast, road hauliers are achieving punctuality rates of 99 per cent and more, day in, day out.