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The freight transport strategy is appreciated but ineffective

20 December 2022

The objective of bringing about a transfer from road to shipping and rail has not been met. This is stated by Transport Analysis in its final evaluation of the national freight transport strategy, which is believed to lack governance.

In July 2018, the government presented the national freight transport strategy. Some of its primary purposes have been/are to create the conditions for efficient, high-capacity and sustainable freight transport and to promote a transfer of freight transport from road to rail and shipping.

So how is it going? Transport Analysis has had the task of evaluating, and two sentences in the authority's final evaluation sum it up quite well: "The strategy has generally been met with a positive response from the freight operators. However, these have not to any significant extent changed their behavior or otherwise made adjustments as a result of the implementation of the strategy."

Transport Analysis states that the strategy's objective to bring about a transfer of goods to rail and shipping has not been met. On the contrary, road traffic, just like in the rest of the EU, has increased.

"Explanations for why it is difficult to move goods from road to rail and shipping can be found in differences in freight costs (freight rates, fee structures, delivery times, risk of delays, etc.) as well as a generally lukewarm interest from freight transport buyers in other transport arrangements than by truck, something that has been reinforced during the Corona pandemic. Other explanations can be found in a lack of coordination between relevant actors to achieve a transfer together with less and less overlapping competition surfaces for the types of goods to be transported by several types of traffic", writes Transport Analysis.

The strategy has made it easier for freight operators to collaborate on the strategy's issues. It has also created new arenas for cooperation, above all at the national level. At the same time, the breadth of the strategy has probably made it difficult to agree on what the collaboration should be about and how it should be conducted in order to most effectively achieve the strategy's goals, writes Transport Analysis and criticizes the government for a lack of governance:

"Management has mainly been limited to a number of government assignments or assignments in regulatory letters from authorities, as well as to discussions within the Freight Transport Council. A more proactive management and a clear coordination of the efforts would probably have led to a better consensus and commitment in the implementation from all parties involved."

But even if it has not produced any quantifiable effects, the freight transport strategy has improved the possibilities for more competitive and sustainable freight transport.

"There is, after all, a lot of positive things to take away from NGTS and not continuing the strategy work that has begun would be a missed opportunity. In order not to lose momentum in the transition that has begun, it is rather more important to now switch up the areas that have begun the transition and to strengthen the areas that have not yet begun the transition with additional and powerful measures. The necessary components are more or less already in place, but roles, responsibilities and objectives need to be clarified, writes Transport Analysis.

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