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The Development Plan for French Combined Transport Aims to Achieve a 60% Increase in Traffic within Four Years

The Development Plan for French Combined Transport Aims to Achieve a 60% Increase in Traffic within Four Years
photo: Archive/The Development Plan for French Combined Transport Aims to Achieve a 60% Increase in Traffic within Four Years
23 / 02 / 2023

The GNTC industry body, in collaboration with Rail Logistics Europe (RLE), owned by SNCF, and consultancy firm Altermind, has recently released a report outlining the French combined transport development plan.

The plan aims to accommodate a projected 60% increase in traffic by 2027. The report highlights the fact that bi-modal transport is currently the most dynamic segment of rail freight in France, representing 39% of the sector's total activity and achieving a volume of 14 billion t/km in 2021.

Despite the segment's strong growth, the report identifies two key challenges. The first challenge is the insufficient allocation of rail capacity on the network, with priority given to construction and maintenance works instead of long-distance traffic infrastructure. The second challenge relates to the allegedly inadequate state of freight terminals, which negatively impacts service quality and hinders operators from meeting customer demand. Most of France's freight terminals are managed by SNCF Réseau, the state railways-owned infrastructure manager.

France's national strategy to increase rail freight's modal share of goods from 9% in 2019 to 18% in 2030, and to reach 25% in 2050, includes measures to promote combined transport. However, the strategy does not provide a specific plan for processes and investment needs, leaving them for further study. The report warns that without a stronger commitment, the entire rail freight revival strategy may be at risk of failure.

The GNTC, RLE, and Altermind development plan has three main areas of focus. The first is upgrading the rail infrastructure, with a key element being the allocation of capacity to combined transport in line with its needs. Investing in new and existing terminals and creating favorable conditions for private investment is also a priority.

The second area of focus is providing permanent and recalibrated support for combined transport operators to enhance their visibility and effectiveness, particularly in dealing with the current energy crisis. The third area is supporting demand through regulatory and financial incentives, which would likely accelerate the modal shift to combined transport.

If the entire plan were to be implemented, combined transport traffic could increase by 60% by 2027 and remove an additional 450,000 trucks from the road, resulting in a reduction of approximately 1 million tonnes of CO2 emissions.

In conclusion, the report states that the plan is designed to create a strong dynamic to achieve the government's objectives for 2030, which will require a paradigm shift and/or greater investments in network capacity. For this plan to succeed, the state must play an essential role in providing impetus, coordination, and funding, particularly in fully mobilizing key stakeholder SNCF Réseau.


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