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“Choose the long-term solution”
Market Insights

“Choose the long-term solution”

Column by Paul van de Vorle - Director Business Development

The shift from road haulage to intermodal transport is faltering. There are several reasons for this. Falling demand has created overcapacity in the market. This coupled with low fuel price, results in road hauliers thinking short-term and driving at lower rates. Nevertheless, the time for modal shifting really is now.

After the coronavirus pandemic, there was a capacity shortage due to high demand. Demand was so high that it threw the supply chains into turmoil. Then came the war in Ukraine. Fuel prices rose, there was a shortage of trucks, a shortage of personnel, and what was the result? A huge push towards intermodal transport.

Short term
Since then, that huge demand for goods has declined, resulting in overcapacity. Fuel and energy prices have fallen. The result this time? A shift from intermodal to road transport: cheap mileage. So, despite an intermodal peak in recent years, many are now falling back on road transport. A logical decision for the short term, but responsible it is not. While sustainability is playing an increasing role, the long-term sustainability strategy is lost from sight. 

"Intermodal transport offers long-term solutions"
Paul van de Vorle, Director Business Development

Longer term
Modal shift offers the solution to this, on several levels. Intermodal transport has lower CO2 emissions and is therefore a more environmentally friendly option. But it also offers a financial solution, in the longer term. For years, we have seen a rising shortage of drivers. Given the ageing population, we see that shortage growing again in the future. As soon as the market picks up (even if only slightly), we will have a huge problem and capacity restrictions will follow. To close this shortage, drivers' wage costs will rise. Moreover, rising toll costs will make road infrastructure increasingly expensive. Intermodal transport will therefore also benefit financially in the longer term. In addition, it is a more sustainable alternative on a strategic level by meeting the customer's sustainability requirements.

Make choices
For the sake of cost-efficiency, the focus is currently mainly on road transport. I encourage making strategic decisions and opting for the intermodal solution. In other words, while you sometimes have to pay a little more in the short term, it will pay off in the long term - while helping the planet at the same time.

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“Van den Bosch is convinced things have to change. And they can be”

Van den Bosch Anton Bolwerk – Head of Shared Services