EU Commission proposes a simplified definition of combined transport

EU Commission proposes a simplified definition of combined transport
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Aimed at replacing the current, more complex criteria, the new definition requires that more than 50% of the transport distance be covered by non-road methods, rising to 60% by 2035.

To increase the efficiency of the European intermodal freight transport sector, a proposal has been made to simplify the definition of combined transport operations under the Combined Transport Directive. This simplification seeks to maintain the directive's focus on the external cost advantage of intermodal transport over unimodal road transport, proposing a clear, distance-based definition. From the outset, a combined transport operation would be defined as an intermodal transport where non-road modes cover over 50% of the distance, adjusting to 60% by 2035 to reflect expected improvements in terminal density and rail infrastructure.

The European Commission's initiative to redefine combined transport operations introduces a straightforward calculator to identify operations saving at least 40% of the external costs compared to road-only transport. The industry advocates for an easier-to-understand criterion, suggesting the shift from a less-than-50% road leg to a more substantial non-road component, aligning with future infrastructure enhancements.

The revised definition aims to facilitate understanding, service modeling, certification processes, and enforcement checks, ensuring broader applicability to intermodal operations as per the European Commission's impact assessment. It also proposes a delayed implementation strategy until electronic Freight Transport Information (eFTI) platforms are widely available, ensuring a seamless transition to the new definitional framework.

“Removing uncertainties and unnecessary complexity, while maintaining the principle of external cost advantage was the objective of the intermodal sector when devising its recommendation on how to improve the definition of combined transport operation,” commented UIRR President Ralf-Charley Schultze.

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