Thursday, October 28, 2010

Rail Freight Update Around The Globe

A Quick Look at the Past Weeks Events
Shipping News Feature

AUSTRALIA – The ‘Missing Link’ project, as it has become known to rail freight professionals, was finished this week meaning much improved throughput of intermodal cargo in the Port of Melbourne. The Australian Rail Track Corporation, plus both Federal and Victoria State governments have all invested in projects to upgrade infrastructure with new dual gauge tracks and equipment running into the port.

US – Two of the rail companies were more than pleased to release profit figures, Kansas City Southern saw shares rise almost 5% when it released Q3 statistics saying an increase in freight tonnages plus cost paring produced a successful return despite track repair costs and service interruptions after the July hurricane. Meanwhile, as predicted, Old Dominion Freight Line (ODFL) saw their own Q3 stats up with revenue up 23% to $396 million.

ODFL say they are looking for even better figures as more less than truckload (LTL) operators struggle in, what is for road hauliers, a difficult market with rates rising as tonnages fall. ODFL say they are to invest tens of millions of dollars in new rolling stock to meet the rising demand for rail freight.

CAMBODIA – Toll Holdings say they have pumped A$5 so far in the project they are running as Toll Royal Railways together with Cambodia’s own Royal Group. Recently a new stretch of track into Phnom Penh from Kampot province opened in the company’s bid to convert truck freight into rail cargo. More development is planned to link Sihanoukville port into the system and long term Toll believe the prospects for the country’s rail freight development look good with many big hitting international investors already involved.

UAE – As we have reported previously the Union Railway has now invited tenders for the initial works to build the proposed rail network with construction due to start in 2013. In what will prove a massive programme the first phase reportedly will stretch over 260 kilometres between Ruwais port and oilfields in the Al Gharbia region.

EUROPE - The Official Journal of the European Union published on 20 October the Regulation Nº 913/2010 of 22 September 2010 concerning a European rail network for competitive freight. This new legislation aims to boost rail freight in Europe fostering the development of a high-quality rail infrastructure management at international level.

The new legislation makes it mandatory to create a European rail network for competitive freight based on nine international rail freight corridors linking the main industrial regions of Europe. This will help to reinforce cooperation between infrastructure managers and make rail freight services become more competitive and attractive.

Shippers, forwarders and combined transport operators will be allowed to request capacity over these corridors to meet their logistic needs under the best conditions through dedicated one-stop shops. The levels of quality of the supply of rail infrastructure services along freight corridors will be constantly reviewed and published.

The new rules come into effect from the 9th November and the EU say international rail freight transport has suffered in recent years from the lack of sufficient cooperation and voluntary coordination between infrastructure managers which prevented the level of services from being raised. This regulation will boost cross-border cooperation and coordination to give fresh impetus to the rail freight sector along major international rail corridors while taking full advantage of existing initiatives to modernise rail infrastructure under the TEN-T and cohesion policy and to deploy the European Rail Traffic Management System (ERTMS).