The US$247.39 billion rail freight market-2021-2026 global growth, trends, COVID-19 impact and forecast


This “Rail Freight Market-Growth, Trends, COVID-19 Impact and Forecast (2021-2026)” Report has been added to provide.

The global rail freight market is valued at USD 247.39 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of approximately 2% during the forecast period 2021-2026.

The impact of COVID-19 on the global rail freight market is mixed, as the rail freight market in North and South America has declined, while rail freight volumes in Asia and Europe have increased. In the long run, the regional share of rail freight is expected to increase significantly. Therefore, it is expected that there will be higher investment, further infrastructure development and technology implementation to realize the digitization of railway freight transport.

North America leads the global rail freight market, and the Asia-Pacific region is expected to surpass North America during the forecast period. In addition, the growth of global trade and various trade agreements are driving global trade flows. Non-container cargo and liquid bulk cargo dominate the type of cargo transported by rail, and the growth of multimodal transport is driving the transportation of containerized cargo. It is expected that multimodal cargo will experience rapid growth during the forecast period.

Similarly, with the increase in international trade and the recognition of the benefits of rail freight, cross-border rail freight has gained tremendous momentum in different parts of the world.

In Central Asia, Eastern Europe, South Asia, Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, which are characterized by many small countries, rail freight can promote economic integration by providing access to international and regional markets and connecting landlocked countries.

Main market trends

Low transportation costs and model changes drive the market

Railway freight companies continue to invest and reduce costs for customers. For example, they have increased the payload that can be carried, and the tonnage of each train has increased by 80% in the past ten years. When transported by rail, the lower interest cost of bundled capital partially compensates for the higher transportation costs, making rail freight a very cost-effective transportation option. Let me illustrate:

If a company transports 750 containers per year, the average cargo value of each container is 250,000 euros, and the financial cost is 5% PA, the daily interest cost is 37.52 euros per container. It usually takes about 25 days to ship goods from China door to door to Europe by rail, while sea transportation usually takes about 42 days. This means that each container can save 708 euros in interest costs, and all 750 containers can save 531,165 euros per year. This money can be used to pay additional costs and create a more flexible supply chain, which can also have an additional positive impact on cost parameters and capital constraints.

Railway freight companies continue to invest and reduce costs for customers. For example, they have increased the payload that can be carried, and the tonnage of each train has increased by 80% in the past ten years. Railway transportation costs are lower. The cost of railway transportation is only one-tenth of the cost of automobile transportation; the fuel consumption of transportation is about one-twentieth of that of automobile transportation.

The COVID-19 crisis has caused a shortage of truck drivers in many countries and regions, and sea and air transportation have been restricted. Therefore, compared with the cost of rail freight, the cost of shipping by truck by sea or by air has risen sharply. This makes the transformation of railway panic into a supply chain advantage.

Competitive landscape

The rail freight market is moderately integrated in nature, with a mix of global and local players. According to industry sources, since the past decade, the railway industry is facing huge competition from its similar service providers, road and air carriers.

Many countries are investing heavily in railway infrastructure construction, especially in the Americas and Europe. International companies occupy a large market share by acquiring or cooperating with local companies in many regions. At the national level, most markets seem to be concentrated in the presence of one or two major players.

In addition, in some countries, state-owned enterprises have most of the market share. During the COVID-19 pandemic, rail freight plays a key role in the critical period of connecting European economies and maintaining freight transport.

Market insight

  • Current market scenario

  • Technology trends

  • Government regulations and initiatives

  • Insights into traffic corridors in key areas

  • Focus on the impact of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)

  • Comment on Railway Freight Cost

  • Establishment of major railway-related trade agreements

  • The impact of COVID-19 on the market (short-term and long-term impact on the market and economy)

  • Insights into the main end users of the railway freight industry

Competitive landscape

Company Profile

  • Union Pacific Railroad

  • Canadian National Railway

  • CSX shipping

  • Norfolk Southern Railway

  • BNSF Railway

  • Swiss Federal Railways

  • DHL

  • Database cargo

  • United Parcel Service (UPS)

  • Canadian Pacific Railway

  • Russian Railways (RZD)

  • Geneese & Wyoming Inc.

  • French National Railway Company

  • Indian Railways

  • Japan Freight Railway Company (JR Freight)

Other participants in the market

Pacific National, SCT Logistics, Qube Holdings Ltd, Hector Rail, Kerry Logistics, Colas Rail, Network Rail, Ceva Logistics, DSV, P&O Ferrymasters, Kuehne + Nagel, Harsco Rail, Railtech Infraventure Pvt Ltd, NARSTCO, Rail Maintenance Services, Patriot Rail Company LLC, WSP, Amalgamated Construction (AMCO) Ltd, Keewatin Railway Company and A & B Rail

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