Intermodal terminal in Kutno, Poland

Containers gaining more popularity among rail freight operators in Poland

2021/04/06 at 7:28 AM

In contrast to the continuing decrease of overall freight traffic on Poland’s railway network, containers are gaining more and more popularity among the local operators. The share of intermodal transport has set a new milestone surpassing a 10 per cent rate in 2020.

“Over 223.2 million tonnes of freight were transported in 2020, which was approx. 5.6% less than in 2019. Despite fears at the beginning of the year, the pandemic did not slow down the development of intermodal transport. All parameters for this segment set an increase in each quarter of 2020. The share of intermodal transport in the rail freight market in 2020 amounted to 10.7% in terms of weight and 15% in terms of volume of freight moved,” Ignacy Góra, President of the Office of Rail Transport (UTK), summed up the results of the last year

The Polish rail freight operators carried 23.8 m tonnes of containerised cargo in 2020. This means an increase by 4.3 million tonnes or 21.9% compared to the 2019 data. In terms of freight moved, there were transported 7.8 billion tonne-kilometres, which are by 0.7 billion tonne-kilometres or 10.9% more in relation to the past year. Moreover, the 2020 results set two milestones for the Polish rail intermodal in terms of number of moved units (around 1.7 million units, almost 1.6 million of which were containers) and twenty-foot equivalent (around 2.7 million TEU).

Container traffic on Poland’s railway network, 2011-2020 (in thousand TEU). Source: The Office of Rail Transport (UTK).

Intermodal leader

2020 was a year for escalating competition among the Polish rail freight operators in the intermodal market. Last year 22 carriers were engaged in transporting containers, semi-trailers and other types of intermodal freight. PKP Cargo as the largest rail freight operator in Poland succeeded to keep its leadership position. However, the company’s share fell to the lowest rates in its history: 35.92% in terms of weight and 42.7% in terms of freight moved.

PKP Cargo is looking forward to attracting more intermodal traffic in the future. “Transport of intermodal freight secured us over 18 per cent of the freight moved, which was carried by the Group in 2020. I have no doubts that in order to develop further, the PKP Cargo Group must constantly increase this ratio,” – Czesław Warsewicz, CEO of PKP Cargo, emphasised at the latest press conference.

Rail freight operators ranking

PCC Intermodal took the second position in Poland’s rail intermodal ranking after three years of highly intensive expansion. The company, which is a subsidiary of Germany-based holding PCC SE, started intermodal operations only in the fourth quarter of 2017. Now it has a market share of 11.51 per cent in terms of weight of freight moved. The third place was taken by DB Cargo Polska.

Captrain Polska, which was a vice-leader for two consequent years in 2018 and 2019, finished the 2020 year at the fourth position (7.96 per cent). Another novelty of the current ranking is the fifth place of Metrans. The Czechia-based operator took a share of 5.47 per cent by overtaking LTE Polska, which ended the year only with a share of 5.18 per cent.

Seven other companies have a market share between 1 and 5 per cent: Ecco Rail – 4.8, Eurasian Railway Carrier – 4.61, CTL Logistics – 3.59, Eurotrans – 2.44, PKP LHS – 2.22, Lotos Kolej – 1.26 and Rail Cargo Carrier Poland – 1.17. The remaining nine operators have a share of less than 1 per cent: Alza Cargo, Rail Polska, CD Cargo Poland, Orion Rail Logistics, Cargo Master, Inter Cargo, ZIK Sandomierz, Freightliner and EP Cargo.

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