The report also analyses the different modes of transportation, namely road, rail, sea and air, and how their fortunes will fare over the next decade.

Commenting on the report, Karel Stransky, Director of Corporate Solutions, EMEA at Colliers International, said:

“The development of a modern road and rail network in Eastern Europe is essential to helping it meet its economic potential.

“At present, due to the lack of appropriate modal shift infrastructure outside Europe’s core port and distribution centres, rail cannot compete with road. Road is far more ubiquitous and flexible as a means of consistent transport across all of Europe. Equally, investment is going in to more environmentally friendly vehicles, which will push back a little on the shift to rail. However, the extent to which infrastructure and legislative support is brought to bear across the EU in favour of rail will be the key influence in the long-run. In Russia, where EU policy has no influence, rail freight will be left to the whims of the market, so progress remains to be seen. This, despite the fact that, for trans-national Russian traffic, rail freight would appear to be the obvious choice.”

Key highlights from the report show:
• With the distribution of GDP traditionally determining the location of the European logistics market, the predicted rising economic growth in Central and Eastern Europe will give rise to the need for changes in the logistics infrastructure that services it.
• The extent to which certain Central and Eastern locations can grow their logistics market will be driven predominantly by improvements in road and rail infrastructure and the competitive/legislative pressures between them.
• The development of a complete motorway network is a priority for all central and east European countries as the many expressways that currently exist are simply not designed to facilitate a large volume of HGV traffic, due to their lower load-bearing capacity.
• That is why the majority of major planned roads, extensions, expansions and improvements are focused on Eastern Europe, especially roads connecting Eastern Europe with Western Europe. These improvements will be critical in expanding the potential distribution locations of logistics operators across the central and Eastern European belt.
• Despite the heavy current reliance on road transport as the most flexible and cost-effective mode over the past century, the cost and emission efficiency advantage of rail over road for medium distances (allowing for switching between modes) should start to alter how goods are transported across Europe.
• Rail is more cost effective over long distances and is a great fit for intermodal shipping as it offers the best containerized fit between shipping and the hinterland.
• Rail is also easy to electrify and therefore has a key role to play in hitting EU carbon targets.
• Whilst a resurgence in rail freight might be seen as the best way to fit with the EU’s proposed, stringent environmental policies on congestion, pollution and carbon emissions, the reality of putting such a network in place is not so simple.
• Rail distribution cannot be restricted to just one region since it works best over medium to long distances, and there needs to be some significant investment made to cope with long-term decline. There is also a danger that funds allocated for rail investment will be diverted to High speed passenger services rather than freight services.