Wednesday 27 October 2021

UIC and UIRR, the International Union for Road-Rail Combined Transport, presented their comparative analysis of combined transport usage and standards on 19 October

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UIC and UIRR have presented the results of their comparative analysis on combined transport usage and standards to an audience of over 100 participants at an online webinar on 19 October. This is a landmark in the work commissioned by the European Union Agency for Railways to facilitate combined transport activities and boost its integration with other modes of transport. The relevance and importance of the study was highlighted during the webinar by Eric Lambert, chairman of the UIC Combined Transport Special Group. “Combined transport is already important for rail but has proven to be a market segment with great potential. Smoothly aligned operations are therefore of prime importance for operators,” he said.

Combined transport operations are currently organised through various regulations and standards (TSIs, EN, IRSs, ISO, etc.), which are not always aligned. They define the design and testing requirements for intermodal loading units (ILUs) and set out the conditions for ILU compatibility with the various transport modes and their transhipment in terminals. The comparative analysis conducted within the framework of the CACTUS project develops recommendations to eliminate gaps, overlaps and contradictions.

As key recommendations, the study calls for the creation of a specific TSI on combined transport covering infrastructure, operations, traffic management and rolling stock subsystem aspects relating to the interoperability of ILUs loaded on wagons. Furthermore, the study proposes including relevant combined transport operating methods as described in UIC’s IRSs and in the existing TSI on wagons (WAG TSI).

Finally, CACTUS proposes revising Directive 96/53/EC, as amended by EU Directive 2015/719, to define semi-trailers suitable for transport by rail as intermodal loading units. It also recommends revising a number of ILU-related EN standards and introducing new, updated requirements for cross-referencing between standards to eliminate overlaps, contradictions and deficiencies.

This significant effort by UIC and UIRR provides the groundwork for policymakers developing the long-awaited revised Combined Transport TSI. UIRR President Ralf-Charley Schultze said: “CACTUS is a thorough piece of work executed by the two organisations, UIRR and UIC. We hope it will inspire ERA and DG MOVE to proceed with the TSI on combined transport. The recommendations developed in this study should be reflected in the new initiatives taken by ERA and DG MOVE. Interoperability is on its way; what we need now is European harmonisation”.

To download the study’s executive summary, please visit

The full study will be available in the coming days.

For further information, please contact Philip van den Bosch, UIC Senior Freight Strategy Advisor, at

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