43-44/2017 A level playing field
Malaysia’s economy has performed better than expected in recent months. The country’s corporate landscape is changing from that of a commodities supplier to an industrial hub. The economic growth can also be observed at the large ports of Port Klang, Tanjung Pelepas and Penang, which jointly handle a volume of 22 million containers a year. In light of this dynamic performance, it came as a positive signal that the Fiata World Conference was held in Kuala Lumpur. Over the course of four days, more than 1,000 industry delegates from 77 countries came together to exchange their views and experience. The ITJ was also on site and gauged the mood of the industry. You can read up on the key findings of the conference on page 10.
This year’s world conference was also dominated by the change at Fiata. Hans Günther Kersten has recently assumed the office of secretary-general, and following the world conference Babar Badat was elected as new president. Despite new faces at the top, not everything is changing fundamentally at Fiata. The new officials are familiar with the association and will continue the successful work of Fiata. Development through continuity is the motto.
While new infrastructure projects are often implemented at record speed in Asia, in Europe you can be satisfied if the existing traffic routes are usable. Since the start of October, the rail corridor between Basel and Karlsruhe has been open again and cargo trains are again rolling as normal. However, “Rastatt” has not yet been fully resolved. The backlog in goods volumes in the north and in the south had to be run down and the processes normalised again. The seven-week interruption mercilessly revealed the problems of the transport mode of rail. Train drivers, who were accompanied by interpreters on the diversion route through France, were a symbol of what is going wrong. Cargo traffic by rail in Europe lacks cross-country standards and a commitment to rail, which is also backed by action.
Rail currently has too many downsides compared to road haulage to make up for the shortfall. This also has to do with the fact that road haulage is often preferred financially. In France the rolling out of a distance-based heavy vehicle duty has been in discussion for years, but nothing has happened. The operators of freight trains currently pay their section fees dutifully. Transport by rail has huge potential, but it will need fair conditions to fully play to its strengths.