Kombiverkehr reported revenue of 430 million euros ($542 million) in 2011, up 11.9 percent on the previous year and just 2 million euros short of its 2008 record, as Europe’s largest multimodal operator shifted nearly a million truck loads from road to rail.
The German group said the 4.2 percent increase to 972,600 truck consignments would have been greater but for capacity bottlenecks at road/rail cargo terminals.
Domestic traffic grew 3.7 percent to 228,215 truck loads, and international services were up 4.4 percent at 744,385 consignments
Traffic to and from France and the Netherlands posted the fastest growth rates, of 40 percent and 38 percent, respectively. Traffic with Poland fell 20 percent because of a “marked” deterioration in service quality, particularly punctuality.
Growth slowed in the second half of the year because of the eurozone crisis, and the trend continued into the first five months of 2012, the Frankfurt-based company said.
“The first six months of 2011 were very strong, but in the second half demand weakened considerably as a result of the financial crisis in the eurozone,” Managing Director Robert Breuhahn said.
“This year we are experiencing an economic downturn in the southern European countries, in particular.”
The closure of the Brenner Pass in Switzerland for maintenance work is also slowing growth in traffic growth, as it is a key rail route between Germany and Italy. The alternative Gotthard route also is subject to closures.
“The lesson is clear: there must not be any such closure on the European rail network again. Such or similar closures are an obstacle to the European Union’s already ambitious growth plans for rail services,” Breuhahn said.
Kombiverkehr said it is confident, however, that it can eliminate the capacity bottlenecks that hampered traffic in 2011 with expansion projects in Hamburg, Cologne and Ludwigshafen due to be completed within the next few months.
“Finally, the shortage of [truck] drivers and increases in [highway] tolls and the price of diesel are also some of the factors playing into the hands of combined [road/rail] transport,” Bruehahn said.
Kombiverkehr, a cooperative owned by around 230 German and international freight forwarders and transport firms, runs more than 170 direct and shuttle services with 15,000 connections.
Contact Bruce Barnard at email@example.com.