Rail transport must become more competitive in terms of costs and timely delivery

Eurogrup Consulting (ECG), Ensight’s fellow member in the nextcontinent international consultancy network, published the results of the 2015 edition of the European barometer on the perception of rail shippers.

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The objective of the barometer is to give shippers a voice and evaluate their opinion on rail fret. It analyzes the modal shift preferred by shippers to transport their goods, the rail services user-friendliness and the associated user satisfaction. Compared to previous editions, this one includes an assessment of the European level shippers’ perception.


Target population: industrial shippers, retail shippers and freight forwarders using or not conventional or combined rail transport.

Scope: a panel of 129 respondents, divided in 76 French and 53 international

Administration: online survey sent to clients and members of the steering commitee

Administration deadlines: from January 13 to March 13, 2015


The main conclusions of the study as well as development trends are featured below:
Suppliers are all in favor of choosing rail transport, provided that some improvements emerge. It is mandatory to be more competitive in terms of costs and timely delivery with a rail offering that combines transparency, accessibility and flexibility. Network renovation and development, in order to cover local needs, is a step that also appears of utmost importance.

Advocated actions include:
1. Competitive pricing, improved timeliness
2. More clarity, transparency and availability
3. Cost control, decrease in hazards and lines development
4. Upgrading last mile cost
5. Funding of feeder network renovation and freezing of freight journeys price increase
6. An improved network and a more competitive rail market


Combined rail/road transport and combined waterway/road transport appear both as satisfactory modes of transport. The rail alternative, in its combined form (especially with road transport) provides flexibility, which can certainly catch the attention of more shippers. Nevertheless, stakeholders are not losing sight of financial imperatives and environmental requirements in their transport choice.

Shippers stress the necessity of mutual cooperation between transport organizers and rail companies to try to better meet their needs, especially of those that are not rail connected.


Modal split
Road transport remains the preferred transport mode, 50% of panel respondents using only one mode of transport having chosen this option.

When two modes have to be used, the players prefer the combination of conventional rail transport with road transport (48% of total respondents selected this option). Compared to last year, each combined rail/road transport and combined waterway/road transport increased by 10 points.


Depending on the transported type of goods, road transport remains the first mode, in case of transportation of consumer goods and hazardous and chemical products.


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