It is really crucial to augment the share of container transportation in rail freight traffic

hungrailInterview with László Mosóczi, Hungrail President  (Hungarian Rail Association).

Hungary pays significant importance to the development of international freight corridors, especially to the development of the Mediterranean Corridor which provides access not just to the European Western market, but also to Ukraine thus increasing its transit potential on the Eurasian platform. The International Freight Corridor 7 (Orient) is also on Hungary’s agenda which has plans to increase freight transport.
The Záhony Region, western point for the connection with OSJD Corridors, is another strategic point regarding the development of the railway capacity for attracting the freight flow to Hungary. The country believes that the current railway infrastructure investments will increase the interest of transport operators and that of the players activating on the markets of Central Asia and the Far East.The development of the East-West railway transport connections, the intensification of freight transport flows from Asia to Europe and the capacity of the Hungarian network of facing demands, the projects concerning the development of the Hungarian railway industry development, the legal changes that the Fourth Railway Package brings to this market or Hungary’s strategy on the development of container transport are among the topics approached and detailed in the interview with Mr. László Mosóczi, Hungrail President  (Hungarian Rail Association).

Railway PRO: Could you, please, explain us, in a couple of paragraphs, the importance of Rail Freight Corridors? Also, could you give us a few details about the development of Rail Freight Corridor no 6 [Spain to Budapest (Záhony)]?
László Mosóczi: It is a very important fact to be mentioned, that according to the amendment of the TEN-T Regulation (now 1315/2013), the Rail Freight Corridors have to get integrated into the so called “Core Network Corridors” defined by that Regulation, which include not only railways, but inland waterways and road infrastructure as well. The Rail Freight Corridors established by Regulation 913/2010 are going to form the backbone of these Core Network Corridors, therefore their adequate alignment has to be executed according to the requirements of Regulation 1315/2013 until 2020. The Core Network Corridors, which will be headed by the European Coordinators, are the new implementation tool of the TEN-T Guidelines. The major part of the RFCs belong to the TEN-T core network (there is also a “Comprehensive” network too), therefore their infrastructure has to comply with additional requirements to be achieved by 31 December 2030. The core network will consist of those parts of the comprehensive network which are of highest strategic importance for achieving the objectives of the Trans-European transport network policy, and will reflect evolving traffic demand and the need for multimodal transport. It will, in particular, contribute to cope with increasing mobility and ensuring a high safety standard as well as contributing to the development of a low-carbon transport system.
The Mediterranean Rail Freight Corridor (formerly called RFC 6) will link ports in the south-western Mediterranean region to the Ukrainian border with Hungary, following the coastlines of Spain, France, and crossing the Alps towards the east.
It is important to mention that the Mediterranean RFC brings together several other corridor concepts, established by Regulation:
• Rail Freight Corridor 6 “Almería-Valencia/Madrid-Zaragoza/Barcelona-Marseille- Lyon-Turin-Milan-Verona – Padua/Venice – Trieste/Koper-Ljubljana-Budapest- Zahony (Hungarian-Ukrainian border)” according to the EU Regulation 913/2010, operating from November 2013 (RFC 6);
• Rail Network Europe Corridor 08 “Lyon/Dijon – Torino – Ljubljana/Koper – Budapest” (RNE 08);
• Rail Network Europe Corridor 06 “Mannheim/Gremberg – Lyon – Nîmes – Perpignan
• Barcelona – Valencia/Paris – Madrid – Lisboa” (RNE 06);
• ERTMS Corridor D “Valencia – Lyon – Ljubljana – Budapest”;
• TEN-T Priority Project 3 “High-speed railway axis of southwest Europe” (PP3);
• TEN-T Priority Project 6 “Railway axis Lyon-Trieste-Divača/Koper-Divača-Ljubljana- Budapest-Ukrainian border” (PP6).

Given its nature, the Mediterranean corridor is expected to become a major European Corridor, linking South-Western and Eastern EU countries.
In particular, it represents a key access gateway to Ukraine and therefore has a high potential in diverting part of the Western Europe-Asia traffic flows, which presently are ensured by the road mode.
Therefore the traffic development along this corridor has to be interpreted also in terms of significant potential increase of the rail market share and consequent reduction of environmental externalities in terms of reduction of gas emissions and reduction of congestion of the roads and highways.
There are still main missing links on the Mediterranean Corridor, which will be eliminated, namely: the new cross border rail links between France and Italy (“Lyon-Turin”) and between Italy and Slovenia (“Trieste-Divača”); the multimodal connections with the ports in Spain that have to be developed and, in general, along the corridor the lack of interoperable multimodal centres able to attract private operators and generate additional demand; some railway sections in Italy that need to be upgraded in order to remove key bottlenecks and the Spanish railway connection between Murcia and Almería.
Moreover, concerning rail interoperability, some barriers have to be overcome: the coexistence of two gauges; different electrifications (25kV AC in high-speed networks and in HU, 1.5 kV DC in
Southern France – conventional lines) and different standards with regards to train length and axle loads.
On the other hand, some success stories can be highlighted such as the Madrid-Barcelona high-speed line that reduced the journey time between the two cities attracting millions of passengers from air and road transport because of the standards of comfort and a seamless city to city connection. Also a success story is the connection of the Spanish and French high speed networks (Barcelona- Perpignan – under construction) that at the same time creates a high capacity link for rail freight.
This corridor will provide multimodal links between the western Mediterranean ports with the centre of the EU. The development of this corridor would also balance intercontinental port traffic, which today is mainly concentrated in the North Sea harbours. It will foster the development of those ports as major multimodal logistic platforms and will improve the multimodal connections in sensitive areas such as the Pyrenees and the Alps and connect some of the major urban areas of the EU with high-speed trains.
We are also familiar with some further corridor concepts of the eastern states, such as the OSJD Corridors for example. These corridors partly finish at Csop at the Ukrainian side of the Hungarian – Ukrainian border. I think it would be very important to link the Mediterranean Rail Freight Corridor with these eastern corridors for the sake of interoperability and more seamless flow of goods thus creating a better and more sustainable increase of volumes of east – west rail freight traffic in quantitative and qualitative terms.

Railway PRO: Speaking of freight corridors, how would you describe the importance of Rail Freight Corridor no 7 (Orient Corridor) for all the countries it transits?
László Mosóczi: Rail Freight Corridor 7 is defined by the Regulation 913/2010 to run through the Praha – Vienna/Bratislava – Budapest – Bucharest – Constanta and – Vidin – Sofia – Thessaloniki – Athens axis. Eight infrastructure managers and one capacity allocation body of the corridor were involved in the realization of the corridor.
As mentioned beforehand, according to the changes resulting from Regulation 1316/2013, the RFC 7 are now called Orient / East-Med Corridor (hereinafter OEM), and have to be integrated to the Orient / East-Med Core Network Corridor until 2020. Resulting from the regulation, the OEM has to be extended up to Germany therefore the corridor rail network will cover eight countries (Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Greece). Its total distance between Wilhelmshaven and Piraeus is on average 4231 km, depending on the routing in Germany and the Czech Republic. Besides the main lines along the principal route outlined in the Regulation, the Corridor includes alternative routes frequently used for re-routing trains in case of disturbance on the main lines, and connecting lines, sections linking terminals and freight areas to the main lines. The length of RFC7 main and alternative lines (without taking into consideration the connecting lines) is almost 5900 km. The length of the corridor route sections are very different among the involved countries, Austria has the shortest one with about 350 km (approx. 6% of the whole corridor) and Romania has the longest part, about 2200 km corridor line (approx. 37 % of the total length).
A very important role of the RFCs is the aim to foster the harmonisation of operational rules across borders. Here a number of low-hanging fruits can be reaped relatively quickly, not requiring expensive investments into infrastructure. In the field of harmonisation of operational rules the RFCs should be able to deliver a concrete benefit to their customers already in a near future.
Finally, the RFCs should also play a strong role in the implementation of the so-called TEN-T infrastructure requirements on the Core Freight network of the EU, stemming from Regulation (EU)1315/2013 (TEN-T Guidelines), including i.e. the requirement to enable the operation of 740 m long trains and an axle-load of 22,5 tonnes. This is an important measure to improve the competitiveness of European rail freight and can become an important success factor for the RFCs. The implementation of these standards requires cross-border coordination. Therefore the RFCs should carry out studies and develop plans for the implementation of these standards – The Rhine-Alpine RFC 1 has already carried out a study regarding the introduction of 740 m long trains on that corridor. In the context of these studies the RFCs should also investigate whether there is a business case to go beyond the minimum requirements and implement higher standards on selected sections of the  RFCs.
The table bellow summarizes the planned major investments on the corridor and their expected impact.
According to the Transport Market Study prognosis of Orient/East-Med Corridor, several conclusions can be driven for the future benefit of the Rail Freight Corridor, for example the following:
Rail freight corridor 7 will profit not only from GDP growth, but also from improving the technical condition of the infrastructure and also eliminating the unreasonable border waiting time. The improvement of technical conditions and the reduction of waiting time at the borders will result in an increase in transport performances due to the increase of quality of the provided services, speed and flexibility of transport.
There are also remarkable benefits stemming from the establishment of the rail freight corridor in terms of socio-economic factors, such as reduction of waiting times at the borders (micro effect), reduction of transport times in freight transport (impact of investments) and the reduction of external costs (macro effect). The estimated changes of the structure of transport flows can also become an important socio-economic advantage deriving from operating the corridor.
The OEM Corridor’s eastern end is the Bulgarian – Turkish border which will be considered as a very important fact, as the Turkish economy is developing dynamically therefore the role of rail freight traffic from and to Turkey is getting more significant. More and more Railway Undertakings are doing business towards Turkey therefore it is very important to keep the operation of the OEM Corridor on a highly efficient level in order to obtain more and more customers, i.e. more operators would prefer the usage of that corridor path instead of choosing other ways.
One further important measure of the OEM Corridor is that it crosses only EU Member States (unlike its competitor routes with the same directions running through non-EU countries) therefore the qualitative sustainability of this corridor must be well taken care of on the long term to keep it as the most attractive solution for operators.

Railway PRO: Could you elaborate the strategic role of Záhony project for the rail freight transport and also give us an update with the latest developments of the project as well as the importance of the hub in terms of the available capacity for freight routes?
László Mosóczi: The loading capacity of Záhony is more than 20 million tonnes/year as measures proved it in the 1980s when the real traffic was the already mentioned quality. Today, unfortunately the used capacity is only around 5 million tonnes/year. The Hungarian Government was carrying out serious development projects in that catchment area in order to increase the level and quality of the provided logistical services and in order to increase the volumes of rail freight traffic through the Záhony – Csop border stations.
In terms of rehabilitations and upgrades at the Záhony area, several parts of the worn out and degraded infrastructure (of the normal and wide gauged tracks) have been taken care of. The industrial site of Fényeslitke has also been constructed with its necessary connections with railways and road. The Cluster of Záhony has also been established by the local and regional entrepreneurs in order to achieve their common goals as regards of growing fright-volume tendencies.
In strategical terms, Záhony has an important role, as the Eastern end of the Mediterranean Corridor and also it is the Western connecting point of the OSJD Corridors. It would be very crucial to put a high emphasis on such investment possibilities and logistical services in the Záhony-area, that the Eastern partners would be definitely interested to operate via Záhony.
The possibilities regarding container transport should be better exploited in order to increase the volumes and also with the aim of rebooting the RoLa transport. In addition, the industrial activities would be triggered again. Záhony will definitely provide added value services in case it aims to attract transport volumes thus it is not enough if it acts only as a simple transfer station. Therefore, it is vital to cooperate with our neighbouring partners in order to make the best out of the exploitable possibilities.

Railway PRO: We would like to know more about HUNGRAIL’s efforts in the increase of the Hungarian – Ukrainian – Russian – Kazakh – Chinese traffic. Would you share with us, in a few words, the association’s activity in this respect?
László Mosóczi: It is well-known from several sources, that an increasing tendency is forecasted in the upcoming years concerning the freight transport between China and Western Europe. This is also underpinned by the growing industrialization of the Western Chinese areas, from where transport on railways to Europe would definitely mean competition against maritime transport. It is an important fact to mention that currently at the Chinese-Kazakh border the transfer station on the terminal of Khorgas is under construction, which is going to generate serious rail freight volumes with its estimated volume of a yearly amount of 50 million tonnes of transferred goods. It is logical therefore that Hungary aims to acquire a reasonable freight traffic share of these measures and it aims to provide for these freight volumes the shortest possible transit way.
MÁV proved to be very active and inaugurated steps towards its Chinese, Kazakh, Russian and Ukrainian partners in order to establish a new rail freight corridor at the Chinese and Kazakh borders between Khorgas and Záhony.
MÁV is an integrated company operating also as an infrastructure manager. Evidently it has to develop such infrastructural and service qualities with its partners to be able to provide the best possible alternative routes and solutions to railway undertakings therefore contributing to the improvement of competition, not to forget the beforehand mentioned investing possibilities to the Záhony-area.
HUNGRAIL aims to help rail freight companies to enter into Eastern markets along with its foreign partner-organizations, meaning that Hungarian, Ukrainian, Russian, Kazakh and Chinese rail operators in case of cooperating with each other could generate good quality rail freight services on the long term.
HUNGRAIL also prepared a study concerning the different types of goods which could be transported by rail between Central Europe towards Russia, Kazakhstan and China indicating those possibilities where freight transport can be feased economically. Interesting figures can be observed in that study, including information also about goods to be transported between Europe and China.

Railway PRO: How would you describe HUNGRAIL’s role in order to contribute to the sustainable development of the rail transport industry in Hungary?
László Mosóczi: HUNGRAIL and his member companies participate in the forums where it is possible to support the legislative processes in professional respects. The European Railway Regulation went through many changes in recent years, which changes have been modified the national railway act beeing in force in lot of points and its apply not always meet the requirements of the market. We work on it together with the Ministry of National Development and we hope, that a railway act will be enacted in one year in Hungary, which will serve the interest of the market players.
HUNGRAIL would like to do for the competitiveness of the central and eastern European railfreight. This year autumn will be organized by HUNGRAIL a palatial event for the first time, called CEE FUTURAIL. We hope, that the companies’ CEOs, who work on the essential route of this area, will participate in the event. We would like to give the opportunity to talk about the real problems whereupon solutions can be found already on the event.

Railway PRO: What is your opinion about the liberalisation of domestic railway passenger transport, now perfectly in operation with the vote on the 4th Railway Package?
László Mosóczi: Although the First Reading of the European Parliament resulted a much better overall requirement-package on that dossier (Regulation 1370/2007) than it was firstly drafted by the European Commission, I still think that for Hungary the opening of the market for domestic railway passenger services would be too early. Even though I think that the compulsory tendering for public service contracts is a very good initiative for the sake of improving competition on the market regarding the passenger services, but we have to impose a strong consideration for the healthy balance between the different railway undertakings of different countries (I mean here that the bigger and stronger RUs shall not “cherry-pick” the best lines for themselves thus creating an economic disproportion.)
Regarding the “open access” of the rolling stock, for Hungary neither the current legislative environment, nor the lasting contracts would not allow such measures to be carried out still for a while, notably I mean here, that we have to take into consideration the existing long-term public service contracts with MÁV and GYSEV.
Altogether my opinion regarding that legislative proposal of the 4th Railway Package is that it is going too fast and demands too radical changes with its proposals, not adequately taking into account the realistic situation and overall needs of the railway sector.
On the other hand, in terms of socio-economic provisions, I think quite positive measures were accepted to the text, such as the authorities have to grant rules for the transfer of staff in the event of change of operator, and that authorities have to ensure decent employment and working conditions too while taking into account the existing collective agreements, national and regional rules.
Last but not least, if I consider the measures of the accepted text in the regard of the smaller operators, for them it is going to be definitely more beneficial to compete for public service contracts, because size limits have been defined by setting a minimum number of contracts to be awarded in each Member State according to traffic volume.

Railway PRO: Could you describe, in a few paragraphs, the strategies in Hungary for the development of container transportation?
László Mosóczi: It is really crucial to augment the share of container transportation in rail freight traffic. The only competitive way of integrated rail, waterway, and road transport is the container transportation. Goods transported in containers (in case they comply with the climatic circumstances too) are usually safe (against mechanical damages and against theft), they have the potential to be able to get transported easily and rapidly therefore a “door to door” transfer is feasible.
A current and actual freight transportation key issue is the “single wagon traffic”. It is a common alternative of the container transportation as goods are placed into the containers after production at the factory and after transportation on road the goods are being loaded to rail at the closest intermodal terminal. This solution is cheaper than if only single wagon transport would be carried out on rail.
Unfortunately, RoLa transport has lost from its past role in the Central-Eastern European territories after the EU joining. In case only the container and the goods without the truck and the driver would be shifted to rail then definitely a contribution to the increase of rail freight transport modal share could be realized.
The role of the ports of the River Danube is also increasing, therefore more space shall be provided for container transportation on the long term.

Railway PRO: What can you tell us about the construction of Budapest bypass route “V0”? What are the advantages of this project regarding the connection of the Hungarian railway network with the neighbouring countries?
László Mosóczi: As far as the Hungarian railway network is concerned, all the main transit lines are running through and crossing each other in Budapest. The River Danube, which crosses Hungary from a North – Southern direction, can only be crossed by railway in Budapest and in the south Hungarian city of Baja. Regarding the major rail transit axes (crossing at Budapest) going through Hungary are the following: Austria –Romania, Austria – Serbia, Slovenia/Croatia – Eastern-Slovakia, in addition Záhony-Dunaújváros and the Záhony-Austria directions.
In case the “V0” railway line would be realized then the transit rail freight traffic would not need to cross via Budapest therefore not only the capacity of Budapest would increase but the transit times could be reduced so as the speed of rail freight trains could increase for the overall benefit of the transit flows and the customers. Thus, the capacity of the railway infrastructure in Budapest would be mostly provided for the long-distance and suburban passenger traffic and flows, freight traffic will not “confiscate” capacity from the passenger traffic. Additionally, several planned infrastructure development projects could be “ignored”, such as the “multiple-tracking project of the Southern Connecting Bridge of Budapest”, and thus the currently exceeded role of the Budapest Ferencváros Marshalling Yard could be reduced too. This could definitely have a positive effect for the capital, as the precious free capacity could be exploited for some better purposes.
The already discussed freight priority corridors of the Mediterranean (RFC6) and the Orient/East-Med (RFC7) would pass by also on the V0 curve as well, therefore facilitating the crossing of the provisional international rail freight flows, by making them even more seamless and fast. Hungary aims to augment the transit rail freight traffic remarkably on the long term, therefore contributing to the overall EU strategy of the European Commission by attracting even more volumes from road to rail. V0 could be a means of contributing for that concept by providing rail transit traffic with better circumstances in terms of qualitative and quantitative measures.

[ by Elena Ilie ]
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