The future of mobility in Belgium is far from rosy. We already spend a lot of time stuck in traffic, some 44 hours per driver per year on average.  With a 27% increase in freight transport by 2040, this problem will only get worse. To prevent a complete standstill in the near future, urgent attention needs to be devoted to developing a sustainable and intelligent transport mix where cargo is carried not just by road but also partly by rail or on inland waterways.
Philippe Degraef, Director of Febetra: “Road hauliers and rail operators are thinking more and more in terms of modal complementarity. This mental switch was turned on a while ago. Now it’s a case of converting this into action.”
And that is where the problem lies. Road hauliers certainly want to transfer some of their traffic to rail or inland waterways, but they are having to shelve these plans for cost reasons. Transferring goods to rail involves another operation and this means an extra operational cost of EUR 40 on average. What is more, investment in specific infrastructure and equipment is desperately needed.
Febetra and the Belgian Rail Freight Forum are convinced that a lot more road hauliers would be more inclined to develop multimodal services on both short-distance and long-haul routes if the current cost handicap were removed. This will require the following:
Paul Hegge, representative of the Belgian Rail Freight Forum: “A transshipment cheque is a way for the government to compensate road hauliers for transferring to and from the most efficient mode of transport. This will enable us to take 750,000 trucks a year off the roads in Belgium and to avoid the loss of 1,000 hours a day in traffic jams.”
Finally, the Belgian Rail Freight Forum and Febetra are keen to emphasise that both proposals will have a positive impact on the modal shift, congestion and the environment.
 Source: Federal Planning Bureau (2019)
 A joint study by Febetra and the Belgian Rail Freight Forum estimated the average transshipment cost at EUR 40 per handling operation per unit (from truck to train, or vice versa).
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