Potentials for a modal shift from road to rail and ship - A methodological approach ETC/ACC Technical Paper 2008/18

23 Apr 2009

Iulian Petchesi

The aim of this report was the development of a methodological approach to determine a maximum theoretical potential for a modal shift from road to rail and ship for both passenger and freight transport. The objective was to determine an order of magnitude in terms of how much traffic could be theoretically transferred from road transport to rail/ship and to illustrate the feasibility of tapping the calculated theoretical shift potential using some studies on trend scenarios as examples. The existing methodologies for determining the modal shift potential described and used in the current literature were reviewed, followed by research on the data availability on the EU level. On this basis a possible approach was developed. The estimation of the modal shift potential was ultimately regarded solely for rail.

The segmentation approach was chosen to calculate a modal shift potential in passenger transport from road to rail. Three assumptions were generated and used for a calculation, based of real data from 2000 and 2003. The calculations made in the scope of this report showed such modal shift potential of 32.8%. The share of rail in passenger transport theoretically increases to 17.3% in 2030 and should be feasible if further ambitious policies and measures are implemented with regard to travel costs, travel time and railway network.

For freight transport a different calculation approach was developed on the basis of different types of goods and transportation distances. The application of three prerequisites results in a theoretical modal shift potential for the 27 EU Member States of around 771.3 million tonnes on the basis of 2006 figures. This corresponds to around 4.5% of the volume of goods (measured in tonnes) currently transported by road. Also considered are the growth in the volume of goods transported by rail and the modal shift related to transportation performance in tonne kilometres. Freight transportation over long distances in particular is regarded as shiftable, and shifts will require massive expansion of rail infrastructure in many countries and it will exhaust the present expansion of infrastructure capacity.

Prepared by: ETC/ACC members Wiebke Zimmer and Martin Schmied (Öko-Institut)

Published by: ETC/ACC, December 2008, 62 pp.