Interview with Holger Segerer, Secretary General of the International Union of Private Wagons
The rail freight transport market in Europe which is marked by some key words, order reduction to reduce transport capacity, growth in combined transport (container transport), the new measures within General Contract of Use of freight wagons (GCU), cross-acceptance and the leasing of rail vehicles, these were the topics that Holger Segerer, Secretary General of the International Union of Private Wagons (UIP) debated on in his short interview for Railway Pro Freight & Logistics.
Railway Pro: The global economic recession affected the transport volumes causing carriers to reduce activity and to reduce transport capacity. In which way has this decision affected the wagon market segment in terms of acquisition by carriers, but also the wagon keepers?
Holger Segerer: Of course, the recession also hit the rail freight sector, where the private wagon business contributes almost 50 % of the tonne kilometres in Europe. The wagon keeper companies, represented by the UIP, are quite non-homogeneous regarding size and business model as well as areas where they have their business focus, and thus were hit to different extents.
Railway Pro: Taking into account estimates regarding the revival of the transport market in 2010-2011 period, how do you appreciate the evolution of the market freight cars?
Holger Segerer: As of today, a significant number of freight cars have been parked, waiting for further recovery of the market and hopefully the year 2011 can contribute a lot to it, especially in the light of the fact that the booming German economy with its focus on exports will trigger a lot of additional rail freight transport in Europe.
Railway Pro: Do you think that the emphasis of shippers on container transport is reflected in a change in railcars market structure?
Holger Segerer: In order to fulfil their customers’ needs, the private wagon keepers have always been very flexible. If customers decide on more container transport, they will most probably get an appropriate product offer from the private wagon sector.
Railway Pro: Does the extension of the principles of cross-acceptance lead to a restructuring of wagon keepers by increasing the share of railcar pools?
Holger Segerer: The principle of cross acceptance has been established in order to facilitate the putting in service in as many European Member States as possible of older design products, not compliant with the new TSIs. This strongly helps for all kinds of rolling stocks including freight wagons, but I do not see any direct effect on the market share of railcar pools.
Railway Pro: Do you consider that there are technical and administrative obstacles that obstruct the wagons cross-acceptance policy on the European markets?
Holger Segerer: Yes, although we have now a harmonised legislation at European level in place, with the obligation for all Member States to transpose it into national law, we experience on the one hand deviating translations and interpretations in its application at national level and, on the other hand, in some Member States, the NSAs frequently tend to impose additional national rules, which clearly obstruct the harmonised open European rail freight market.
Railway Pro: What is the role of the new measures provided by General Contract of Use for Wagons (GCU) in order to increase efficiency and attractiveness of rail freight?
Holger Segerer: The GCU was developed as a generic contract under private law in order to cover all aspects of the practical relation of the contract parties that are involved in the operation of the freight cars, i.e. RUs, IMs and keepers. By nature it makes life easier because a standard contract can be applied instead of developing individual contracts for each and every wagon leasing business.
Railway Pro: What do you consider that the directions pursued by UIP are in the new EU Member States and adjacent countries for the dynamic growth and attractiveness of wagon market?
Holger Segerer: At present, the ma-jority of the UIP members are active in the “old” EU and Switzerland. The UIP of course has a strong interest in the new EU Member States and the adjacent countries and we hope that the revival of the market after the crisis will also arrive in these countries, which evidently had to take the biggest hit in rail freight. We would be happy to experience the foundation or revival of national associations of private wagons and invite them to become UIP members. Our participation in the recent congress in Bucharest on the wider Black Sea area is a clear sign for this.[ Recorded by Elena Ilie ]