Outlook for European rail freight business discussed at GRFC
At the 5th GRFC in Rotterdam the current situation and outlook for European rail freight business was discussed. Most presenters have commented the competitive situation of rail compared to other modalities, mainly road transportation. Analysis showed there has not been made much progress in the past decade. At present the rail freight industry is confronted with “bad notes” for reliability, efficiency and price level. This situation still largely result from the lack of sufficiently interoperable railway systems in Europe.
The need for higher productivity and linked to that the need for a lower cost level is top priority for all parties in the chain. Further optimisation of the European freight corridors will certainly help here.
European rail network
And there was more good news: a start-up company RailWatch presented its ambition to install a large number of multi-measurement sites in the European rail network. At these check-points different aspects will be measured and the “health status” of freight wagons will be analysed. Only the relevant information will be distributed to the interested stakeholders on the basis of a data subscription.
Frequent automated wagon inspections will enable the owners to plan for condition based maintenance, based on trending of measurements over time. The window of opportunity for preventive maintenance actions will clearly lower the cost of ownership and improve the reliability of rolling stock and therefore of train services. The announced RailWatch-service did meet a lot of interest and it was highlighted as a very pragmatic and tangible approach to create better conditions for the desired modal shift. The information base is attractive to all people in the logistic chain and sharing information between parties seems to be a key success factor for the rail freight industry.
Visitors of the information booth of RailWatch showed a great interest during the Ten-T days and the GRFC.