December 01, 2015

Railfreight decline continues in central Europe

Written by  Keith Fender
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Railfreight decline continues in central Europe Keith Fender

THE continuing decline in coal transport, in part caused by cheaper supplies of oil and gas, plus the global slowdown in the steel industry continues to impact railfreight volumes in central Europe.

According to figures released this week by German federal statistics agency Destatis, the previously reported decline in volumes in Germany - Europe's largest railfreight market - has continued into the third quarter.

Overall volumes between January and September dropped to 270.6 million tonnes, a 2.1% decline compared with the same period in 2014. The biggest reduction in traffic by category was coal and oil (-6.8%) followed by metal ores and recycling materials, including scrap metal, (-5% and -5.6% respectively). The only traffic type showing real growth was chemicals, which rose 4.1% to 32.3 million tonnes.

Export traffic fell 3.1% but imports plunged 9.3%, reflecting the decline in coal imports from neighbouring countries such as Poland.

Measured by tonne-km, traffic was largely static with a 0.2% year-on-year increase to 85.6 billion tonne-km - within this transit traffic rose by 2.2%. Intermodal traffic fell by 9.6% with 4.4 million TEUs transported in the first nine months, compared with 4.8 million TEUs during the corresponding period in 2014.

Meanwhile in the neighbouring Czech Republic the country's largest railfreight operator ČD Cargo has reported a 5.9% year-on-year decline in third quarter volumes. ČD Cargo transported 16.3 million tonnes which is broadly in line with the volumes for the first and second quarters of 2015.

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