Road-Rail combined transport figures fell again during the April-June quarter, according to Ralf-Charley Schultze president of the International Union for Road-Rail Combined Transport (UIRR). 

In his opening message of the Union’s August newsletter, Schultze revealed the latest quarterly volume results, along with UIRR’s latest Sentiment Index. 

The near-15% drop in volume was equal to the “historic decline” marked in Q2 2020 when the Covid pandemic first hit Europe. 

It is the third consecutive quarterly drop in combined transport volume, and as such it is likely unsurprising that sector business sentiment remains “negative.”

“The poor outlook for European Combined Transport is attributable to the European economy, which is experiencing difficult times characterised by high inflation, sluggish consumer confidence, the end of abundant and cheap energy and multiple impacts on transcontinental trade,” Schultze explained. 

Increasing track access charges and traction electricity price hikes have not been able to compete with static road tolls and declining diesel fuel prices, meaning road-borne freight has grown more attractive. 

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Schultze argued the sector would need targeted support from EU governments, as the downturn is expected to last until at least 2024. 

“A wide range of options are already available to Member State governments to support electric rail freight through actions such as reduced track access charges or traction electricity price caps,” Schultze noted.