Rail transport is assimilated to any movement of passengers and/or goods on a given rail network, on board a rail vehicle, train or locomotive + wagons. Routing can be done by whole train or by isolated wagons by subdivision.
Rail freight transport is one of the possible relays for international maritime transport and air freight transport, as is road and inland waterway transport for international multimodal freight transport.
It allows the transport of frozen or freshly picked fruits and vegetables such as olives or cocoa, cereals, alcohol, fertilized hatching eggs, live animals, livestock, medicines and pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, beauty products, but also the transport of precious goods, cigarettes, household appliances and steel coils...
The importation of alcohol, like the transport of alcohol in France, is subjected to the regulation of dangerous goods and must be the subject of a Dangerous Goods Declaration.
Piggyback transport is the rail-road combination technique by which a truck and its trailers, or a road tractor and its semi-trailer, can be loaded onto the wagon to extend its journey (rolling motorway).
Pricing is in tonne-kilometres: this is the number of tonnes transported multiplied by the number of kilometres travelled.
Rail transport in Europe suffers in favour of air transport for passenger transport and road transport for freight transport, whereas it is a mode of transport that perfectly meets current ecological and climatic concerns.
Rail transport is favoured for its low cost and the large quantity of goods it can carry, but rail freight is longer and rarer. Its market share has halved in 25 years.
Rail freight now represents 10% of all freight transport in France, compared to 75% in the 1950s.
There are several causes such as the end of coal mining and metallurgy, the ageing of the rail network, the deterioration of the service and taxation more favourable to road transport in France.
The 2018 rail pact provides for many recovery measures, but the recovery will be slow...
Currently the Perpignan-Rungis route, which used to transport 140,000 tonnes of fruit and vegetables per year to the famous market, is suspended until 1st November 2019.
Sweden, Germany and the United Kingdom are proactive because they anticipated the decisions of Brussels. Italy and Spain reformed their systems under the pressure of the 2008 crisis.
Xi'an launched its first China-Europe freight train on 28th November 2013.