More responsible and more economical: does the multimodal strategy tick all of the boxes?
Multimodal transport seems to be becoming the solution of choice, meeting both environmental and logistical requirements. We can have it all, at an advantageous cost.
When multimodal transport goes hand-in-hand with environmental friendliness
As stakeholders in the logistics industry, more and more industry actors want to make their transport plans more responsible, to meet the challenges of ecological change and the expectations of their customers in this area.
Multimodal transport is an efficient alternative to all-road transport, with the aim of reducing its infamous carbon footprint. By encouraging the use of transport modes that are more responsible, this contributes to the reduction of CO2 emissions by the logistics sector.
The Groupement National des Transports Combinés (GNTC) - French national combined transport group - thus estimates that in France, it will reduce the number of trucks on the roads by one million, which also equates to a reduction of one million tons of CO2 being produced.
The use of multimodal transport allows for a 70-80% reduction in Greenhouse Gas emissions compared to an equivalent road transport operation.
In addition to this, there is advantageous European legislation. With road transport alone, the maximum cargo weight is limited to 40 tons. With the rail/road combination, this figure increases to 42 or even 44 tons, which means that transport capacity can be increased. This solution is not only reducing carbon emissions , as it indirectly limits the number of vehicles required, but is also more economical!
Increase transport capacity and optimize costs in a European market with few resources
The road transport market is experiencing a certain level of challenge in Europe. It is facing a shortage of truck drivers: the number of retiring drivers is outstripping the number of new hires.
How can multimodal transport help and provide a solution? The answer is very simple: by transporting 40 swap-bodies on a single train, logistics professionals will only require one driver during the trip, compared to 40 truck drivers. The latter can then concentrate their work within their local area, handling the first and last mile steps, for which they remain essential, while increasing their productivity.
The recruitment challenges, incidentally, go hand-in-hand with the increased requirements of shipping company customers. It is a "lean" market, in which service provision quality has become a substantial challenge: we must be able to provide excellent quality while meeting very short deadlines. The result: some transport companies are occasionally forced to refuse requests, as they are not able to honor them and process the volumes on time.
Today, transport companies are increasingly inclined to promote the transport company's volume processing capability that it has committed to, rather than very short lead times.
In this context, solutions that combine rail and roads offer additional capacity. GEODIS, for example, decided to operate its own trains to offer a reliable service to its customers in terms of volumes and operational control. This allowed for the creation of new lines linking multiple regions or neighboring countries, such as a Paris-Milan line, a Dourges-Avignon line and a Metz-Hendaye line ("piggybacking" - daily transport). Routes such as the Lodz (Poland)-Piacenza (Italy) line are traveled regularly each week. On average, the company operates 100 trains per week, which makes it the leader for combined transport in both France and Europe.
At the start of 2022, there were 3 round-trip missions (returns) per week. One year later, by February of this year, there will be 5. The Lodz-Piacenza line carries 2 roundtrips per week.