BMI View: 2015 will see expansion across all the main Polish freight transport modes. This will reflect the gathering pace of the economic recovery, led by the consumer sector as well as expansion of foreign trade. The fastest cargo volume growth will be experienced in road haulage, followed by airfreight, w i th rail freight bringing up the rear, but s till achieving g r owth of over 3 %. Some freight modes will have the additional benefit of increases in capacity or extra demand because of Poland's role as a gateway into north-eastern Europe.
As BMI has been expecting, the Polish economy is now being driven forward by a recovery in domestic demand supported by growing exports, as the German supply chain receives a boost from a weak euro and low oil prices. There are some potential problems on the horizon, but we think they are not serious enough to alter a generally positive picture. One is a strengthening Swiss Franc, which could hold back Polish household spending, since nearly 40% of Polish mortgages are held in Swiss Francs. The stronger Swiss Franc could mean higher mortgage repayments by Polish families, limiting their spending in other areas. But this may be offset by lower Swiss interest rates. A second problem is posed by lower exports to Russia and the Ukraine, caused by a combination of economic and political problems in those markets. But this too may be offset by export gains elsewhere.
The dominant road freight sector will see the fastest growth this year, supported by the general acceleration in economic activity and in particular by the strength of domestic household consumption. The Polish consumer will be in broadly confident mood and much of his or her purchases will be delivered by road. While there could be some short-term disruption to the trucking industry due to a disagreement with Germany over minimum wage rates, the medium and longer term outlook is broadly positive with rising living standards driving freight demand.
More closely linked to the coal sector and domestic industry, rail haulage will experience slower but still steady growth. It is also set to benefit from investment growth, with infrastructure projects expected to gather pace in the second half of this year and in 2016. On the longer term rail could benefit from large shale gas reserves coming online. The nature of shale gas extraction - which requires much larger numbers of wells to be drilled with shorter productive lifetimes - means that the freight transport component of the activity (particularly in terms of moving drilling rigs and other equipment) is more intense.
Air freight will grow at above-GDP rates this year and on the medium term, lifted respectively by lower oil prices and rising living standards (which cause a shift towards higher value/lower weight cargo) but also by the specific growth of pharmaceutical and consumer electronics sectors. We expect the development of mobile banking and payments systems to stimulate demand for smartphones and tablets, most of which will be imported by air.
We expect the road freight sector will continue to be the dominant freight mode throughout our forecast period through till 2015, owing to the vast array of trans border connections to key trade partners, owing to Poland's central geographic position. In fact, we believe that soaring consumer demand will result in road freight gaining additional market share, as rail freight's brief surge as a percentage of the total over 2010-2013 is undercut by strengthening investment in highways. Meanwhile, waterways and airports will hold steady with 0.2% and 0.01% of the freight market respectively.
Key BMI Forecasts
We forecast total road freight volumes will rise by 5.9% year on year in 2015 to reach 1.447bn tonnes.
We forecast total rail freight volumes will rise by 3.99% year on year in 2015 to reach 250mn tonnes.
We forecast total air freight volumes will rise by 4.5% year on year in 2015 to reach 84,950 tonnes.