Modal Split at Selected European Inland Terminals, 2007

Modal Split at Selected European Inland Terminals 2007

Source: adapted from “The future of freight transport and inland shipping in Europe 2010 – 2011”, Dutch Inland Shipping Information Agency.

The development of inland terminals in Europe has been based on two main modal options complementing trucking; rail and barge. Facilities along the Rhine, such as Duisburg in Germany, handled substantial intermodal volumes in the range of 1 million TEU in 2009, with a modal split of 50% by road, 30% by rail, and 20% by barge. Still, European inland terminals are facing several challenges. First, the hinterland often does not correspond to national boundaries, leading to coordination problems. Second, there is no double stacking of containers along rail corridors, which limits economies of scale and the optimal efficiency of inland transportation. Therefore, it is not surprising that the most successful inland ports are those able to benefit from the economies of scale of barge services. Third, trucking remains an effective competitor as the distances concerned are relatively short.

The development of intermodal rail services is conferring a level of flexibility required for periods of peak demand, and periods of low and high water levels along the Rhine / Scheldt, which impairs inland navigation, the repositioning of empty containers, and customized services. Some shippers use a bi-modal alternative to avoid congested port rail facilities (on dock or near dock) by moving by barge to an inland port and then shifting traffic to rail. This also enables traffic consolidation from several ports along the range, particularly for Antwerp and Rotterdam.