February 24, 2012

Hupac grows but warns of challenges ahead

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INTERMODAL freight operator Hupac transported 723,894 road shipments by rail in 2011, a 6.6% increase on 2010. However, the operator is concerned about its future prospects due to sluggish improvements to European rail infrastructure that would increase the attractiveness of intermodal services.

While the company achieved two-digit increases during the first half of the year, business declined sharply in the second half due to European economic instability. Transalpine traffic through Austria generated the strongest growth of 24% to 53,053 shipments, while non-transalpine transport on the Benelux - Austria/Hungary/ Romania, Benelux - Poland/ Russia, and Belgium - France - Spain corridors was also up by 12% to 238,918 shipments. The company's core transalpine services through Switzerland experienced modest 1.6% growth to 431,923 shipments with the result impacted by storms, strikes, and line closures.

Despite endorsing the Swiss Federal Office of Transport's recommendations in its 2011 intermodal shift report, Hupac is concerned about the apparent prioritisation of infrastructure projects on the Bellinzona - Luino - Novara corridor which accommodates 80% of unaccompanied combined transport via the Gotthard pass.

Hupac says that urgent improvements to this corridor, including the addition of passing loops, are being shelved in favour of the route via Chiasso, even though the Novara and Busto Arsizio-Gallarate terminals are not easily accessible from this line.

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