Intermodal and full service as a formula to overcome crisis?
PKP Cargo has been a long-term leader in the freight transport market in Poland. During the first ten months of 2015 the market share of freight transport in terms of the cargo transported was 47.71 per cent, and in terms of transport work — 55.84 per cent. A decrease in railway freight transport in 2015 and quite a difficult situation in the cargo industry, as well as the forecasted decrease in coal transport in the coming years make railway carriers diversify their activities. Both PKP Cargo and CTL Logistics decided to develop their activities extending the scope of their services. The carriers have increasingly braver ideas about their activities outside Poland – the above-mentioned companies and Lotos Kolej decided to develop freight transport in Germany. PKP Cargo hopes for the development relying on intermodal transport which it wants to carry out on a wider scale with the help of the Czech carrier AWT acquired in May 2015.
Road versus track
Although transportation of bulk cargo by rail is still a cheaper option for the customer, road transport has remained the largest beneficiary. Therefore, railroad carriers should take care to invest in new rolling stock and create conditions for implementing forms of transport competitive to cars. Thus, under the “Fourth Railway Package” the European Commission proposes that by 2019 all railroad carriers should be given an opportunity to provide their full services in all EU member states. This means that all limitations must be deregulated. The administration of railway infrastructure must be compulsorily separated from providing transport services, which will be very beneficial for smaller carriers (e.g. access to terminals). Apart from the interoperability and harmonisation of the technical standards determining the competitiveness of rail transport in relation to road transport — the construction of TEN-T is also believed to be helpful. The attractiveness of freight transport by rail can be further enhanced by two transport corridors passing through Poland, namely the North-South corridor (Baltic—Adriatic) and the East—West corridor.
Transport corridors and the development of intermodal transport.
Intermodal transport in Poland has been developing year on year. In order to make use of its potential it is necessary to improve the railway infrastructure and optimise the access rates. Experts estimate that a railway-friendly policy of differentiating the rates for access to the infrastructure in Poland can result in a reduction in external costs of transport to PLN 2.7 billion in 2014—2022. The multimodal transport corridors that provide a chance for intermodal transport to spread its wings include Corridor No. 5 North- South (Baltic—Adriatic) and Corridor No. 8 East—West. Both investments were completed by the end of 2015.
The Baltic—Adriatic corridor begins in Gdynia and passes through Tczew, Bydgoszcz (CE 65), Warsaw (E 65), Katowice, Ostrava, Vienna, and Triest to Ravenna. The most important Polish investments along this corridor include further modernisation of railway lines E65 and E59 that are the key trunk lines in Poland on the north-south axis. Transport Corridor No. 8 connects Bremerhaven (via Berlin, Warsaw and Terespol) with Kaunas. According to the representatives of the local government of the Pomeranian Voivodeship and the Association of Polish Regions of the Baltic-Adriatic Transport Corridor, reaching a 30% share in the intermodal market, for instance through activating the flow of cargo via both transport corridors, would be very challenging for Poland. In the coming years Poland can become a logistics platform for the flow of goods between the East and the West and the North and the South.
One of the largest intermodal terminals in Poland — Poznań Franowo — was opened at the end of 2013. The terminal is adapted for providing service to containerised cargo carried by combined transport, i.e. by rail and road. As estimated by PKP Cargo, in 2014 Franowo handled TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) — a unit equivalent to the volume of a 20 feet long container. Forecasts for the coming years assume transshipment of 26 thousand tonnes in a year, which is quite a good result for a terminal at the stage of development. However, the transshipment capacity of the Container Terminal in Małaszewicze reaches 40,000 TEU on an area comparable to Franowo, but this is affected by several factors. First, it was established in 1975, and lies on the main transit route from the EU to Russia, which determines its cargo transshipment capacity. It is also worth emphasizing that in a further perspective the carrier is considering the possibility of expanding the terminal, depending on the weight of cargo to be transhipped. At the moment the terminal accepts not only domestic shipments but also those from Germany and China.