In 2005 Hupac transferred more than 500,000 road consignments to the railways for the first time in its history. The growth in traffic was a satisfactory 15.9%. Two milestones have characterised the last year: the opening of the new Busto Arsizio-Gallarate terminal and the programme of international integrated traction.
Thanks to the new transfer terminal we will be able to continue to grow in Alpine transit. We are aware that new terminals in Europe require a planning horizon of five or more years – therefore we are already preparing forthcoming projects.
2005 was the first year with international integrated traction for over 15,000 Hupac trains. The adjustment from national to international integrated traction is tantamount to a revolution on the European rail landscape. The expectations have largely been fulfilled: the rate of punctuality, i.e. the number of trains with less than an hour's delay, has seen further improvement, and it was possible to increase productivity. There is, though, much still to be done if the desired punctuality of over 90% is to be attained.
Hupac is the first and only operator to use the opportunities presented by the opening up of the rail market for its complete range of services. Several other large European operators were denied these chances; the national rail companies have recently taken the majority of them over. This development is delaying market liberalisation – Hupac's opportunity to position itself as the largest independent operator in the European market is, however, unique.
Five years after publication of the EU transport White Paper and two years after the first railway package coming into effect, there is still no real competition on the rails in most EU countries. Many procedures are too slow and cumbersome, and the relevant directives are not carried through. There is often discrimination against new entrants, and "historical" railways receive hidden subsidies via deficit balancing and other channels. What is lacking is a number of independent, active regulators who are suitably qualified and able to intervene in the market to overcome abuses.
The danger of re-monopolisation will grow if the EU is not successful in pushing through the opening up of the market effectively. This would do a disservice to the future of the rail system in Europe – and in Switzerland it would also put a question mark over the future success of the modal shift policy in Alpine transit. Only competition is capable of creating the innovations which are required for attractive intermodal service in the transalpine market in the future.
The liberalisation of the railway market has made a considerable contribution to the success of the Swiss modal shift policy so far. Along with the financial support, it has provided a positive push for combined transport. Between 2000 and 2005 it grew by 50%. Without new operators and innovative integrated traction models this growth would have been unthinkable. Competition stimulates the market!
The modal shift is taking effect. Between 2000 and 2005 the number of lorries passing through the Swiss Alps fell from 1.4 million to 1.2 million (by 14%). This is in total contrast to the Brenner Pass, where lorry transit has risen by 27% in the same five year period.
The path of opening the market is a rocky one. It requires perseverance – with the businesses concerned and also in politics in Brussels and Bern. In Switzerland decisive settings of course:
- The route pricing system must be corrected - it is not correct that a Hupac train is taxed three times
as heavily as an Intercity train.
- With Railway Reform 2, an active regulatory body should be created which will drive forward the opening of
the market, comparable to Comcom in the telecommunications sector.
- The new law on the modal shift of freight transport should secure the financial support for the modal shift
in transport (currently diminishing per consignment) after 2010.
- The Government, as the majority shareholder of SBB Cargo and BLS Cargo, must strongly oppose a tendency
towards re-monopolisation of the railways.
Hupac is approaching the future optimistically - for 2006 two digit growth in traffic is againexpected thanks to new market offers. With our actions we wish to make an active contribution to sustainable and secure freight transport logistics in the future too.