European Intermodal Operator Sees Improvement

European Intermodal Operator Sees Improvement

Kombiverkehr, Europe’s biggest intermodal transport operator, said traffic fell a less-than-expected 16 percent in 2009 from a year ago as demand started to grow again in the final quarter of the year.

The Frankfurt-based company moved a total of 855,553 truck shipments from road to rail in 2009, equivalent to 1.7 million 20-foot containers.

Kombiverkehr, which is owned by around 230 German and foreign freight forwarders and transport firms, operates over 160 direct and shuttle trains across Europe every night.

Kombiverkehr said it had budgeted for a 20 percent decline in traffic last year because of sharply lower production in key sectors, including chemicals, autos and steel.

But domestic and international demand picked up in the final months of the year, and traffic increased year-on-year on some routes.

Competitive pricing and improved punctuality at most European railways also helped retain contracts with shippers and freight forwarders.

Kombiverkehr said it is cautiously optimistic traffic will register a “slight” increase in 2010 driven by increased demand on international routes, such as the Netherlands and Turkey, and its entry into temperature-controlled transport.

The company also expects to benefit from stricter environmental regulations across Europe. “With around two thirds less carbon dioxide emissions than pure road transport, combined transport is the much more environmentally friendly alternative,” said Kombiverkehr chief executive officer Robert Breuhahn.

Contact Bruce Barnard at brucebarnard47@hotmail.com.