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Developing a framework for standardising and harmonising intermodal terminal concession contracts.

Monios, Jason; Bergqvist, Rickard


Jason Monios

Rickard Bergqvist


Much effort goes into planning of freight infrastructure to achieve government policy aims of modal shift, and governments (and government-backed infrastructure managers and rail ministries) strive to make track access and other regulatory aspects of rail operations manageable and affordable in order to induce private sector operators to enter the market of rail service provision. However, while intermodal terminal concession contracts do not exhibit any universality of conditions, terminal operators may not be able to offer handling services at consistently low prices to the rail operators, who in turn will be constrained in their ability to provide regular reliable services to shippers and forwarders at prices competitive with road haulage. When terminal users do not have confidence of stable and standard conditions across the network, potential service coverage may be constrained as certain terminals are favoured. Very few intermodal terminal concession agreements incorporate performance monitoring processes with defined key performance indicators, which is an essential aspect of port terminal concessions and one that frequently leads to legal disputes when such terms are contended partway through a concession timeframe. The result of this is that usage of intermodal transport may be reduced, threatening the achievement of government modal shift policy targets. Increasing standardisation has been essential to the development of intermodal transport, not only in the physical standards of containers and handling apparatus, but in domestic and international regulation, in business practice and information sharing, and in supply chain integration through mergers and acquisitions. One important element of the above is the management and operation of intermodal terminals. Likewise, the rise in port efficiency in recent decades has resulted not solely from standardisation of equipment (e.g. container types, handling equipment, cellular holds in container vessels) but changes in management structure and the harnessing of private sector investment. It is not yet clear if such advantages have been fully exploited in the intermodal sector; application of a standardised framework can, therefore, enable identification of sources of inefficiency that need to be addressed through better tendering procedures. Tendering procedures for concession of port terminals to private operators have been the subject of considerable interest during the last decade. As a consequence, keys to effective port governance, particularly the landlord model, are fairly well understood, even standardised to some degree. By contrast, intermodal terminal contracts have been found to be quite varied, with little standardisation of procedures, requirements, risks, incentives or contracts even within a single country. The goal of this paper is to apply lessons from the study of port terminal concession contracts to the intermodal sector. The World Bank port reform toolkit is used to create a conceptual framework, which is then matched against five intermodal terminal concession contracts from Sweden. The analysis reveals where potential weaknesses and uncertainties in intermodal tendering processes and contracts can benefit from clear lessons from similar processes and contracts in the maritime sector. Findings from the research show that the port concession framework can be applied successfully to intermodal terminals, and the framework facilitates identification and comparison of deficiencies. Such analysis can be useful both to public sector managers seeking the best concession for their terminal, as well as private sector terminal operators seeking the most appropriate and profitable location to enter the market in a particular country or region. This research is exploratory, thus this paper provides the first step in addressing this topic and introducing a degree of standardisation. Now that a framework has been developed in this paper, future research is needed to apply the findings in other contexts in order to refine the framework further. Such research can identify if there are differences between countries, and to what degree processes of standardisation have been implemented and how successful they have been, with a view eventually to develop a global standard such as that used in the port sector.

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name 4th Florence Conference on the Regulation of Infrastructures
Start Date Jun 12, 2015
End Date Jun 12, 2015
Publication Date 2015
Deposit Date Jul 31, 2015
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Keywords Freight transportation; ports and harbours; regional development; economic growth;
Public URL