Half-yearly results just announced for two of Europe’s biggest rail freight operators offer further evidence that cargo volumes on the continent are on the decline.

DB Schenker has reported that rail freight for the first half of 2012 declined by 2.6% year-on-year, which equates to 5.5 million fewer tonnes carried at 202.3 million tonnes. In volume terms there was a drop of 4.9% to 54 billion tonne kilometers (tkm).

The German operator’s freight forwarding division, DB Schenker Logistics, did, however, record a marginal gain of 0.5% in the number of shipments in European land transport, to a total of 47.8 million shipments. The ocean freight business in particular posted a substantial gain of 10.6%, although air freight volumes fell 7.9%.

Overall, DB’s group revenues increased 3.3% to €19.5 billion during the first half of 2012, driven by passenger growth in Germany. The company posted a 16.6% increase in operating profit to € 1.3 billion which CEO Rüdiger Grube described as ‘very successful‘.

Swiss road-rail combi operator Hupac, meanwhile, endured an 11.7% fall in traffic to 332,000 consignments over the same half-year period. The latest numbers for Hupac are still some way short of the 375,000 consignments the operator moved in the first half of 2008.

A spokesman said: “One of the reasons was the economic downturn that has curbed the exchange of goods throughout Europe since the end of 2011, reducing market demand for transport services but much of the negative traffic development was due to the numerous service interruptions on the network, particularly on the Gotthard line.”

Lloyd’s Loading List.com also reported this week (click here to read) that Europorte, the reail freight division of cross-Channel tunnel operator, Eurotunnel, saw a double-digit percentage drop in rail freight using the crossing.

Chairman and CEO Jacques Gounon blamed a new security fee levied by the French rail network operator but added that import-export activity in the UK had fallen.

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