EU POLICIES deregulating European rail freight are forecast to generate significant growth in intermodal traffic over the next decade. Initiatives such as Singer (p164) are already demonstrating what may be achievable. But operators and infrastructure managers are becoming increasingly concerned that the continent’s rail network will not be able to handle all the traffic on offer, even discounting countries where perverse incentives still encourage the removal of spare capacity to cut maintenance costs. A 2004 study of capacity reserves looked at intermodal growth, taking domestic intermodal volumes as a constant. But today many opportunities have also been identified for domestic growth as well. To quantify the position, the UIC launched its Diomis project (Developing Infrastructure and Operating Models for Intermodal Shift), which reported its first findings at a workshop on February 1. This identified potential intermodal growth between 2005-15 ranging from 38% in Switzerland to 118% in Germany and no less than 122% in France. Freiburg-based consultants K&P looked at the impact of the projected growth and the various capacity enhancement projects in the pipeline - covering both routes and terminals. Their conclusion: ’even if all planned enlargement investments take place by 2015, considerable bottlenecks will remain and hinder traffic growth, and will pose a risk to business development.’ The European Commission is already drawing up proposals for a freight-oriented network, but the railways believe the best approach in the short term is to focus on specific priority corridors. A key issue which this must address is financing the removal of bottlenecks in intermediate countries along such a corridor, where the main benefits will be felt elsewhere. n