Press Release

Container traffic South-West Germany – Rotterdam: Up to 23 percent increase possible

The Port of Rotterdam could increase its market share in certain regions in South-West Germany by up to 23%, if additional rail connections are created. This is one of the outcomes of the “HiRo – Market Potential for Container Transports from the South-West German Hinterland” market study conducted jointly by the Darmstadt Technical University, the Port of Rotterdam Authority and Contargo, which was presented to the public in Mannheim today.

Spoorlijn containers

Photo: Eric Bakker

The study was based on a survey of 30 hauliers, shippers and forwarders in the regions and looked closely at their selection behaviour for ports and transport modalities. There was also a simulation model to investigate the current market shares, as well as the theoretical and actual market potential. The most important results of this methodical approach were then summarised.

Main outcomes of the survey

The outcomes of the survey reveal that the digitalising of transport han-dling is slowly but steadily taking hold, increasingly influencing processes and ultimately decision-taking. In addition, it confirmed that reliable connections to the hinterland are increasingly a central factor in the competition for selecting the port.

The following 10 core points summarise the results of the survey:
1. Transport contracts are determined by longer-term overall con-tracts and short-term booking horizons.
2. Large potential for development of digitalisation, with rising use of EDI interfaces – increasingly replacing manual means of communication (e-mail, fax, phone).
3. Despite digitalisation, the scheduler remains an important part of complex transport scheduling and control.
4. Forwarders route the sea containers through the western ports, while hauliers prefer the German seaports.
5. All decision-takers, in particular the hauliers, make use of road transport for hinterland transport by more than 20% on average.
6. The extent of connections to seaports (logistics areas, terminal shares) is significant only with the shippers.
7. All decision-takers see the greatest significance in a highly diver-sified shipping connection.
8. Other assessment criteria for port selection include:
• For shippers, efficiency of the ports
• For hauliers, costs
• For forwarders, reliable hinterland connections
9. Using indirect preference measurements, transport costs have the highest priority for all decision-takers.
10. Additional IT services are of beneficial use to the forwarders, while shippers and hauliers are more sceptical of e-marketplaces.

Main outcomes of the simulation

The outcomes of the simulation reveal that an improvement in services would lead to a shift to the western ports with respect to market share and in the modal split.
In this regard, the theoretical market potential, in which a “rational deci-sion-taker” makes a judgement purely on the basis of transport costs and duration, indicates a potential shift towards inland shipping and rail to the western ports. With additional rail connections, an increased market share of up to 15% can be achieved in the Greater Stuttgart Region for example. When considering the extended decision-taking logic in the simulation, in order to determine the actual market potential, the modal split shifted towards inland shipping and rail. Based on the assumptions made and the scenarios selected, the market share for Rotterdam in certain regions could be increased by up to 23%. These outcomes thus require the evaluation of creating additional rail connections.

Conclusion and forecast

In particular, the survey resulted in an improved understanding of deci-sion-taking behaviour in hinterland transports and port selection. In this regard, apart from the transport costs, the reliability of the hinterland link becomes a core factor in competition, among other factors. Increasing rail services will create additional market share and a greater share in the modal split for rail. The best possible preparation for future scenarios requires an open exchange of information between all players with a view to reducing “island solutions” and to systematically improving overall processes by the players involved in the transport chain.

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