Modal shift target for freight transport above 300km: an assessment

L.A. Tavasszy, J. van Meijeren

One of the goals of the recent White Paper from the European Commission is that 30% of road freight transport over 300 km should shift to other modes such as rail or waterborne transport by 2030, and more than 50% by 2050 (European Commission, 2011). For the purpose of a discussion on the feasibility and implications of this target, this paper reviews its rational and the mechanisms by which a substantial modal shift could be achieved. Several concrete questions emerge as to the realization of the modal shift target. Is it realistic to expect that this much freight can be shifted from road to alternative modes? Can these modes absorb the increase in volume? If we look back, which developments in the past support the possibility of a major shift? In what way could this shift become reality in accordance with the economic laws of the freight transport market? The aim of this paper is to provide lines of reasoning and to discuss some possible answers.

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