Rail freight grows, but still concerns about passengers in eastern Europe

Freight carried by rail is up, in particular in eastern Europe. The figures, from the European railway companies’ umbrella organisation CER, coincide with a report highlighting ‘significant potential’ for a shift to rail to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

[mailchimp_signup][/mailchimp_signup]CER’s figures for the first quarter of this year showed tonne kilometres up by 12.5% in eastern Europe and 4.2% in western Europe compared with the first quarter of 2010, though still below 2008 levels. Passenger kilometres were slightly up in the west but slightly down in the east.

Johannes Ludwig of CER said: ‘We are positive that rail freight volumes will continue to grow throughout 2011, but very concerned about the continuing weak performance of rail passenger transport in central and eastern Europe.’

CER and its international partner UIC have commissioned a study ‘Potential of modal shift to rail transport’ looking at the projected effects on climate change and transport volumes. Carried out by consultancies in the Netherlands and Italy, it says up to 20 million tonnes of CO2 emissions from freight could be reduced through full use of the main rail corridors and the primary rail network in 2020. See http://tinyurl.com/6lxna2b.