Railways - Articles and news items
Issue 5 2014 • 14 October 2014 • Paul Le Blond, International Air Rail Organisation (IARO)
The number of air-rail links around the world is growing at an astonishing rate. Paul Le Blond, President of the International Air Rail Organisation (IARO) looks at some examples of best practice...
As a backbone, the international worldwide supply chain needs high quality express freight services. This kind of airfreight has the highest growth rate in the transport sector (over 10%). Air sector transport represents only 1% of the global freight volume but 30% of the transport value. Within Europe, international express cargo is distributed by plane and for short distances, by truck. The service is absolutely vital to enable certain industries to function, e.g. by providing spare parts to manufacturing plants. In view of the distances involved, plus the narrow time windows, trucks can only really usefully be employed over distances of up to 250km approx, although this can be more at weekends when the transit time window is wider for most applications.
A rail connection is a real bonus to an airport. About 120 of the world’s airports have one or more rail links today: a further 300 are building them, planning them or considering them. While there are no clear definitions or boundaries, five different types of passenger rail connections to airports can be distinguished. Rail connections handling cargo are dealt with under a separate sub heading.
That question is already answered in most of Europe but it is still the subject of debate in North America, where rail transport is regarded as too expensive, detrimental to parking revenues and surplus to demand. The advantages, counters Andrew Sharp, outweigh the disadvantages.