Reports 09 Nov 2011

Study on the effects of the introduction of LHVs on combined road-rail transport and single wagonload rail freight traffic

This study was commissioned by the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER) and conducted by K+P Transport Consultants (Freiburg) and the Fraunhofer-Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (ISI), Karlsruhe, between June 2010 and August 2011. Its core objective is to quantify the potential range and impact of modal shifts of rail freight to road due to the introduction of longer and / or heavier trucks (LHV). The two relevant rail markets "single wagonload" and "combined road-rail transport (CT)" are distinguished. For both markets the potential shifts by goods category and LHV setting are analysed in the short, medium and long run and including entailed shifts by the economic downward spiral.

The study has found much stronger effects for single wagonload transport than for Combined Transport services. Although both are considerable, the intensity of the downward spiral in single wagonload markets could lead to their complete or partial breakdown in specific regions or countries. The introduction of LHVs would then sharpen the discussion on single wagonload services that is already now ongoing in some EU Member States.
But also the future of Combined Transport will, at least in parts, be subject to the introduction of LHVs. Given that a particular share of terminals is not able to accommodate LHVs and due to the increasing relevance of transhipment costs as soon as road haulage gets more cost efficient, Combined Transport will certainly lose market share. In the light of the huge investment programmes already made to establish Combined Transport in Europe, this effect needs to be carefully considered.