Economic crisis slowing down combined transport growth


Hupac carried more than 700,000 road consignments by rail in 2008

Chiasso, 21.1.2009 – The combined transport operator Hupac ended the year 2008 with transport growth of 1.8%. The company is responding to the economic downturn by streamlining its network and taking specific steps to enhance competitiveness.


In the past year, the Swiss combined transport operator Hupac carried a total of 702,308 truck consignments by rail. Whilst double-digit growth rates were still achieved in the first quarter, growth stagnated in the course of the year as a result of the economic downturn. In the final quarter, the volume of traffic lay far below the level in the same period of the previous year. "As a service provider to industry, the logistics sector is directly affected by the economic recession," explains Hans-Jörg Bertschi, chairman of the Board of Directors of Hupac Ltd. "The downturn in industrial production also brings a fall in demand for transport services. Combined transport and Hupac are no exception to this."


Traffic development

In the Shuttle Net (unaccompanied combined transport) business area, however, Hupac recorded year-end growth of 2.5% compared to 2007. Transalpine traffic through Switzerland decreased by 2.3%, while the newly included traffic through Austria grew by 6.3%. Non-transalpine combined transport achieved an increase of 14.1%. The Rolling Highway business area, which is subject to severe infrastructural restrictions on the Gotthard line, had to accept a fall of 20.3%.


Measures and investments

Despite the downturn in demand, Hupac is maintaining its transport network. Where necessary, operating concepts are optimised and surplus capacity is reduced. Strict management of costs in close cooperation with the partners is helping to overcome the crisis with lean structures and competitive prices. Many investments are being continued as planned, such as the construction of the Hupac terminal in Antwerp and the further expansion of the Busto Arsizio-Gallarate transshipment plant near Milan. Hupac managing director Bernhard Kunz: "We are sticking to our growth strategy. Where it makes sense, we are systematically expanding capacities."


New connections

This also applies to the transport network, which Hupac constantly adapts to the requirements of the market despite the economic crisis. In mid-December, a new transport operating concept was implemented between Duisburg and South Eastern Europe with direct daily connections to Vienna, Enns, Krems and Budapest. At the start of the year, a new connection between Taulov and Verona via Brenner was started with four train pairs per week, in collaboration with Cemat of Italy. The introduction of further connections to South Eastern and South Western Europe is planned for the coming months, whilst new transport solutions via Lötschberg for the semitrailer segment are in preparation on the North-South axis.



For 2009, Hupac anticipates a continuing economic crisis and consequently a further reduction in freight transport. Whether combined transport can maintain or even expand its position in this situation depends primarily on the conditions of transport policy. "The price and service must be right, so that combined transport can hold its own against the road," demands Bertschi. Price increases on the part of the railways – for example due to the planned electricity price increase of up to 23% by DB Energie – are absolutely fatal for rail freight transport when freight volumes are falling and there is a surplus of road transport capacity, he says. "The European network managers and transport policy makers must now send the right signals for the continued shift of freight transport from the roads to the railways."



Traffic development 2008
Number of road consignments



Shuttle Net (UCT) Transalpine via CH
  Transalpine via A
  Total transalpine
  Shuttle Net total

Rolling Highway

Total traffic