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The Office of the Auditor General’s investigation into the transfer of goods transport from road to the sea and to railways

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Summary

​Background and objectives of the investigation

Since the 1990s the goal has been that long-distance goods transport is, to the greatest possible extent, transferred from roads to the sea and to railways. The National Transport Plan for 2014-2023 states that the government will strengthen the competitiveness of goods transport by sea and by rail and facilitate the transfer of goods transport from roads to the sea and to railways. Norway has committed itself to cutting greenhouse gas emissions through international agreements; however, CO2 emissions from goods transport continue to increase. In relation to its population, approximately 35 percent more people were killed in accidents involving heavy vehicles in Norway compared to Europe during the period 2011-2013. This study mainly covers the period 2010-2016.

The aim of the study has been to assess the development of goods transport on roads, at sea and on railways where there is competition between the modes of transport and the reasons as to why the transfer of goods transport from roads to the sea and to railways may be lacking.

Findings

The goal of transferring goods transport from roads to the sea and to railways has not been achieved

  • For goods transport over 300 kilometres where there is proximity to a harbour or railway terminal, road transport increased in 2010-2015 as much as or more than transport by sea and by rail.
  • If the road transport on these stretches had been carried out at sea or by rail instead, the costs for society would have been significantly less, due to a reduction in accidents, pollution and noise pollution, wear and tear on roads, and queues.

The authorities have not managed to strengthen the competitiveness of sea and railway transport compared with road transport

  • Road transport has become faster, cheaper and more flexible compared with sea and railway transport.
  • Few measures have been carried out to strengthen the competitiveness of goods transport by rail.
  • Sea transport costs less than road transport, but takes longer and is less flexible.
  • Areas are better equipped for tenderers and users of transport along the main road network than at harbours and railway terminals.

There are weaknesses in the ministry’s follow up on the aim to transfer goods transport from roads to the sea and to railways

  • The ministry has not had good enough management information. Concrete targets have not been set for the period 2010-2016 in order to ensure that the goal of transferring goods is achieved and the ministry has not followed up on the results achieved by transport agencies. Neither the ministry nor the agencies have had information on whether the measures implemented have had an impact. A lack of information and knowledge may have led to measures that resulted in the transfer of goods transport to the sea and to railways not being proposed or carried out.
  • The ministry has implemented few measures to achieve the aim of increased transfer of goods transport from roads to the sea and to railways.

Recommendations

The Office of the Auditor General recommends that the Ministry of Transport

  • Ensures a joint strategy to follow up on the approved aim of transferring goods transport from roads to the sea and to railways
  • Considers ways to strengthen the financial instruments, through planned measures and provide for the investigation of such in order to increase the competitiveness of sea and rail transport compared with roads
  • Protects the interests of goods transport through area planning processes around harbours and railway terminals in such a way that it promotes the transfer of goods transport from roads to the sea and to railways
  • Ensures stronger management and follow-up on 
    • whether the goal of transferring goods from roads to the sea and to railways has been reached
    • Effects of measures for transferring goods transport
Ministry/ministries:

Riksrevisjonen, Storgata 16, P.O. Box 6835 St. Olavs plass, 0130 Oslo, Norway

Phone: +47 22 24 10 00

Org.nr: 974 760 843