Everyone - shippers, producers and distributors - is now concerned about helping to preserve the environment and reduce congestion on the roads.
For some years, Europe has been encouraging a policy of modal shift in an attempt to alleviate bottlenecks and reduce pollution.
Transport is taking an increasing share in national and European issues regardless of the shifting of the production apparatus in recent years. The trend is to relocate to Southern Mediterranean countries such as Morocco, Egypt, Africa and also Southern Hemisphere countries.
Studies do not reflect the changes in the flow of goods when identifying bottlenecks. Moreover, they are often part of a local framework, irrespective of global issues.
In recent years, however, some initiatives are to be welcomed, such as the interconnection of existing transport nodes, rail shuttles and the use of 45-foot containers.
Relevance of short sea shipping
Short sea shipping has also demonstrated its relevance with transit times from a few hours to one or two days.
This alternative transport mode to road and rail needs innovative solutions, smooth interconnections with other transport modes and an effort to simplify administrative procedures, particularly in relation to Maghreb countries. It also requires more flexible Customs timetables, for example.
The problem is more acute in refrigerated transport. Logisticians and hauliers are concerned about delivering goods in good condition by complying with the cold chain, and providing value-added services.
Europe has been encouraging a policy of modal shift through EU funding programmes for Motorways of the Sea (Marco Polo) and also by supporting maritime transport between Maghreb and European countries. (Meda MoS).
This concept requires all modes to be taken into consideration as part of an integrated transport chain. However, if alternative transport is called on to play an increasing role, it is highly likely it will retain a marginal share in transporting temperature-controlled products, given their short lifespan and seasonality.
Breaking bulk is the enemy of fruit and vegetables! The vast majority of perishable goods is transported by road. It has been demonstrated in Europe that it is the price of hauliers that affects the choice of shippers and the introduction of the environmental tax for road hauliers could encourage industrial producers to look at other modes.
On one condition: The price of door-to-door transport must be 35% lower than the price of road transport.