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37-38/2018 Europe’s Homework


When the World Bank published the Logistics Performance Index 2018 (LPI) in August, the satisfaction in Europe was particularly noticeable. The continent, which could come under extreme pressure in the show of strength between China and the United States according to numerous forecasts, occupied eight spots among the top ten. But the leading positions in the LPI cannot mask the fact that there is still a need for catch-up in the area of transport infrastructure in particular. The maintenance of key roads and bridges is becoming increasingly more expensive due to the age the buildings, the increase in traffic and the more stringent requirements in terms of safety. For states, financing is a major task, which is often put off for later. As the worst-case scenario, a disaster as recently seen in Genoa is the result.


At least the tragedy means that the subject of neglected road infrastructure is now on the agenda. France, which has comparatively good motorways, invests EUR 666 million in maintenance every year. However, as this is not sufficient in the medium term to ensure the quality of the roads, transport minister Elisabeth Borne has announced an investment plan. A country-wide toll has been levied on trucks in Germany since July, which should result in EUR 7.2 billion being collected annually that will be used for the expansion and maintenance of federal highways. In other words, the challenge has been identified, but whether the situation will improve over the long term remains to be seen.


The subject of costly maintenance affects not only roads, but also rail. At least between Europe and Asia, expansions or new constructions are currently the focus. A major player here is Russia’s state rail operator RZD. Its CEO Oleg Belozerov speaks in an in-depth interview from page 22 about the planned investments in the vast country’s railway network. However, RZD’s ambitions are not limited to Russia, but also include links to South Korea, China and Europe – buzzword broad-gauge expansion to Vienna. Even if announcement and implementation are two separate things, it is clear that rail transport is continuing to become more significant in Russia.


Anyone interested in looking at these development up close can visit the RZD stand at the Innotrans in Berlin. The rail and transport fair is being held from 18 to 21 September and is the world’s biggest event in the rail sector with more than 3,000 exhibitors.


Marco Wölfli




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