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Mobility and Transport

Multimodal and combined transport

The negative consequences of transport such as pollution, climate change, noise, congestion and accidents pose problems to the economy, health and well-being of European citizens. Freight transport continues to grow and road freight transport, in particular, is projected to increase by around 40% by 2030 and by little over 80% by 2050. The EU transport policy aims therefore at reducing road transport towards less polluting and more energy efficient modes of transport.

Four types of actions support greater use of multimodal solutions.

  1. The internalisation of external costs in all modes of transport, with a view to send appropriate pricing signals to users, operators and investors. The social and environmental costs of transport should be paid in line with the polluter pays principle.
  2. More targeted investments into physical infrastructure, aimed at better interconnections between the single modal networks.
  3. Better use of information (on traffic, capacities, availability of infrastructure, cargo and vehicle positioning).
  4. Direct support for intermodal transport, as provided by the Combined Transport Directive (Council Directive 92/106/EEC), which aims to increase the competitiveness of the combined transport (defined as intermodal transport with a strictly limited road leg). The EU also provides financial support to multimodal/intermodal transport .

Combined Transport

Combined Transport is promoted within the European Union (EU) through the Combined Transport (CT) Directive (Council Directive 92/106/EEC). The Directive seeks to promote Combined Transport operations through the elimination of authorisation procedures and quantitative restrictions for Combined Transport operations, it clarifies the non-application of road cabotage restrictions on road legs, and provides financial support through fiscal incentives for certain Combined Transport operations. In order to be eligible for the provisions within the CT Directive, the movement of goods must meet a number of specific criteria as regards type of load units and distances.

The CT Directive is supported by other EU policies, such as the Weights and Dimensions Directive (Directive (EU) 2015/719 amending Council Directive 96/53/EC) which provides for Member States to permit movement of heavier intermodal load units by road when used in Combined Transport operations. Furthermore, the EU is also providing financial support for projects relating to combined transport.

In 2014, a study on EU combined transport market and two stakeholder consultations concluded that support for combined transport is perceived as very important by stakeholders in order to be able to support modal shift. The contributions received in the public consultation are summarised in a report.

Based on the study, a REFIT (Regularly Fitness and Performance Programme) evaluation of the Combined Transport Directive is currently being finalised, with the outcome that it continues to be a relevant tool, however efficiency and effectiveness could be improved.

Derogation from Article 4 of Combined Transport Directive

The Regulation (EU) 1055/2020 (part of Mobility Package 1) established a possibility for Member States to apply the cabotage quotas in Article 8 of Regulation (EU) 1072/2009 to road legs of international combined transport when those road legs do not cross a border. Such numerical limitations may be slightly different from those applying to road-only transport as established in the Regulation. However, such derogation from Article 4 of Combined Transport Directive can only be applied where it is necessary to avoid misuse. Member States that wish to use the derogation have to notify the Commission of their intent and review the measure at least every 5 years.

The following Member States have notified the Commission that they intend to use the derogation: Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Hungary.

The Commission is currently analysing these notifications.