Bulk transport, between challenges and uncertainty
The market is moving. This is what figures in the bulk transport industry show, especially in Eastern Europe, after three years when the transport of goods of any kind has known a significant drop, in many cases figures going down by over 50%. Investors have already showed signs of recovery and they seem to have returned to intentions similar to those prior to the financial crisis, when raw materials manufacturers had not yet frozen their production. Could 2011 be a year of challenges for the bulk transport industry?
“Locally speaking, it is hard to predict what will happen next year, but we will most certainly witness new investments that will encourage bulk transport. Thus, 90% of the cargo shipped on inland waterways is bulk”, declared Valentin Zeicu, General Manager, the Administration of Inland Waterways. He presented as example the new transport line ensured by the Austrian company Helogistics Holding GMBP and launched six months before, which is currently connecting Constanţa to the ports of Budapest and Belgrade. According to the representatives of the Austrian company, the transport line will be maintained at least one year with two weekly journeys in both directions. “Even under these circumstances, river traffic will not know a significant growth, although it is well known that freight transport on water is the cleanest”, Zeicu added. However, latest data show that freight traffic in the Port of Constanţa, which owns nearly 90% of the entire volume of freight shipped on this route, has increased by nearly 14% in the first ten months of 2010. A flow of 34,969,324 tonnes of freight has been recorded, with grains and oily seeds representing almost third the traffic volume.
Gefco: Train transport reduces pollution by 50%
In fact, logistics companies prefer sea transport when shipping bulk goods. “To reduce the pollution level, we choose train or sea transport. For example, in case of trains, pollution is reduced by 50% compared to truck transport”, declared Ralf-Charley Schultze, Multimodal Logistics Director Railways and Combined Transport Development at Gefco Group (France). He also explained that for 2011 the company also plans to invest in flexible cars for finished vehicles. The environment concern is much more visible for Gefco, as, he said, customers will much more often demand environmentally enhanced solutions when it comes for logistics activities. “However, there are cases when customers chose the simplest, short-term solution, which is trucks. They are not yet ready to adapt their process or invest in this direction”, added Ralf-Charley Schultze.
Keeping the same register, that of railway transport, but passing in the camp of operators who have inaugurated a business in Romania, the evolution will not maintain the same pace as that of sea transport either. “I don’t know what measures will be adopted next year because I don’t know what will be the evolution of the economy”, said Radu Marcovici, General Manager Servtrans Invest, one of the main rail freight operators in Romania.
However, this will not prevent other operators to invest precisely in order to boost their transport activity. Recently, Grup Feroviar Român (GFR), member of Grampet, has bought the rolling stock fleet of Rompetrol Logistics, together with the almost 350 employees, following a tender which lasted several months.
Consequently, the group could shortly become one of the most important operators in South-Eastern Europe. Especially, if the optimistic prospects on the evolution of the international economy will be confirmed and the market will turn to a sustained growth over the next years.
[ by Ionela Micu ]