World Transport System and Logistics: the Main Directions of Development


The leading branch of material production is transport, without which it would be impossible to overcome the territorial gap between the production and consumption of goods and services. According to the World Bank, the world transport market is estimated at 4.2 trillion. (6.8% of world GDP). Like the global economy itself, transport has turned into a very complex, interdependent, advanced technology-oriented industry that consumes a significant part of the world's energy and natural resources.

World transport system: directions of development

Transport is divided into land (rail and road), water (sea and river), air and pipeline. Table 1 examines the main parameters of the global transport system.

Table 1 - The main parameters of the world transport system 

Road transport from the middle of the 20th century became the leading among the types of land transport. The length of its network is growing and has reached 27.8 million km, with about 1/2 of that in the USA, India, Russia, Japan, and China. The level of motorization in the world is dominated by the US and Western European countries. Road transport also belongs to the priority in the volume of passenger transportation - 82% of the world volume.

Railway transport is inferior to road transport by volume of transported cargo (9% of world volume), but it remains an important type of land transport. The world railway network as a whole developed back in the beginning of the 20th century, its length now amounts to 13.2 million km with considerable unevenness of location. Although there are railways in 140 countries, more than 1/2 of their total length falls on the "top ten countries": the USA, Russia, Canada, India, China, Australia, Argentina, France, Germany and Brazil. Especially in the density of the network, the countries of Europe are allocated. But along with this there are huge spaces where the railway network is very rare or absent.

Pipeline transportation - is actively developing due to the rapid growth of oil and natural gas production and the territorial gap that exists between the main areas of their production and consumption. Pipeline transportation accounts for 11% of the world cargo turnover with the length of the networks - more than 2.0 million km.

Water transport is primarily characterized by the outstanding role of maritime transport. It accounts for 62% of world freight turnover, it also serves about 4/5 of all international trade. It is thanks to the development of sea transport that the ocean no longer divides, but connects countries and continents. The total length of the sea routes is millions of kilometers (by the way, SeaRates team has drawn over 12 million maritime routes during 7 years with the help of Universities, which makes it a really unique database of the nautical information). Naval vessels transport mainly bulk cargo: oil, oil products, coal, ore, grain and others, usually at a distance of 8-10 thousand km. "Container revolution" in maritime transport led to a rapid growth in transportation and the so-called general cargo - finished goods and semi-finished products. Sea shipping is provided by the merchant marine fleet, the total tonnage of which exceeds 456 million tons. World shipping belongs to the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean takes the second place in terms of shipping and the Indian Ocean takes the third place. The international sea channels (especially Suez and Panama) and the sea straits (La Manche, Gibraltar, etc.) have a very great influence on the geography of sea transport.

Inland waterway transport is the oldest mode of transport. Now it occupies the last place in the world transport system along the length of the network. The development and placement of inland waterway transport is primarily due to the natural prerequisites - the availability of rivers and lakes suitable for navigation, the Amazon, Mississippi, Volga, Ob, Yenisei, Yangtze, Congo have greater capacity than the most powerful railroads. But the use of these prerequisites depends on the general level of economic development. Therefore, the United States, Russia, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, as well as China, are allocated for the freight turnover of inland waterways in the world. Of great importance in some countries are also navigation along artificial routes and lake navigation.

Air Transport. This type of the most high-speed, but quite expensive transport plays an important role in international passenger transportation. Its advantages apart from speed are the quality of supplies, geographic mobility, which makes it easy to expand and change routes. The network of regular airlines now encircles the entire globe, stretching for millions of kilometers. Its control points are more than 5 thousand airports. The main air powers of the world are the USA, Russia, Japan, Great Britain, France, Canada, Germany.

All communication routes, transport enterprises and vehicles together form a global transport system. The volume and structure of transport traffic, as a rule, reflect the level and structure of the economy, and the geography of the transport network and freight flows is the location of productive forces. The quantitative indicators of the transport system are: the length of communications, the number of employees, freight and passenger turnover. First, this refers to the global transport network, the total length of which exceeds 50 million km. Secondly, this refers to vehicles. Suffice it to say that more than 210,000 locomotives and millions of railroad cars carry cargoes by railways, over a trillion cars by road, over 90,000 ships along the sea routes, and over 30,000 flights on airways. The total carrying capacity of all vehicles of world transport has already exceeded 2.0 billion tons. Thirdly, this refers to the work of transport, which annually transports more than 110 billion tons of cargo and more than a trillion passengers. The number of employees in transport exceeds 100 million people (which can be compared with the entire population of the Philippines).

The main parameters of the world transport system

The change in the transport intensity of the world economy is characterized by a certain stability in the post-war period: both the total freight turnover and the overall passenger turnover grew at about the same rate (with some lag) as the total gross product calculated at constant prices. During this period, the specific world freight turnover per 1 ton of manufactured goods grew by 1/3, and the per capita freight turnover and kilometric mobility of the population increased 3.5-4 times. One can note the dynamism of the development of transportation - the volume of transportation work has grown more than 7 times, and by 2020 will grow by another 1.2-1.3 times. The "container revolution" had a huge impact on the development of all modes of transport, as a result of which labor productivity in transport increased by 7 to 12 times.

Sea transport is sharply distinguished in world cargo turnover, the share of which has gradually increased and is still almost not reduced from 52 to 62%. The same can be said about the share in the passenger turnover of passenger car individual transport - from 57 to 60%. There is an intensive change in the structure of transport between individual modes of transport. So, in the turnover of goods, the ratio between the railway and its main competitor - road transport has changed from 4: 1 to 1.2: 1, with a subsequent increase in excess of the share of vehicles. The share of pipelines increased from 4.2% to 12.8%. In passenger traffic, air transport approached the level of the railway - 10.0% and 10.2%, respectively, and by 2020 it should exceed it.

The world transport system is not homogeneous, and it can identify the transport systems of economically developed and developing countries, several regional heterogeneous transport systems: North America, Overseas Europe, CIS countries, Asia, Latin America, Australia. The density of the transport network, which is the most representative of its supply, in most developed countries is 50-60 km per 100 km of the territory, and in developing countries it is 5-10 km. In economically developed countries, more than 80% of the world's automobile fleet is concentrated, almost 2/3 of all ports of the world are located, 3/4 of the world's cargo turnover is carried out. This transport subsystem is also characterized by a high technical level.

Since the inception transport has had a strong impact on the environment. The main polluter of the atmosphere is road transport, air transport and rail transport, these types of transport also create "noise pollution" and require large areas for the construction of highways, gas stations, parking lots, stations, etc. (with the exception of air). Water transport mainly serves as a source of oil pollution of the oceans and inland waters.

A special part of the world transport system is transport corridors and nodes (hubs). The system of international transport corridors includes also export and transit main pipelines. The transport corridors created at the end of the last century passing through the territories of several countries unite several types of transport. From the totality of the routes, they have become a system of managing transportation centers and transport hubs, which gradually acquired the functions of managing tariff policy. At the nodes provided with reliable and high-speed transport connections - air and sea container lines - large specialized transport and distribution centers of international importance (Paris, Marseille, Frankfurt am Main, Munich, etc.) are being created.

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The scientific and technological revolution had a great impact on the "division of labor" between individual modes of transport. In world passenger turnover, an out-of-competition first place (about 4/5) now belongs to road transport, in world freight turnover - to sea transport (almost 2/3). A characteristic result of the scientific and technological revolution in world transport markets is the constant growth of the competitiveness of various modes of transport, the increased potential for their interchangeability, the development of intermodal communications. The most severe competition in transport markets is land transport - rail, road, pipeline, and river transport - especially when they provide cargo delivery to seaports. The monopolization of vehicles passing along with the scientific and technological revolution only aggravates competition.

The impact of the state on the development and functioning of transport

Transport is widely used as an instrument of regional policy. In conditions of increasing redundancy and contradictory development of transport, protectionist and discriminatory economic, fiscal and legal measures of the state are intensified, aimed at softening competition and protecting national transport companies. Increasing the use of "their" vehicles to expand the "invisible" exports (freight of foreign charterers, etc.).

Interaction and interweaving of these factors, causes a complex contradictory development of the entire world transport system. On the one hand, the general trend is the acceleration of the transport process: high-speed railways, container communications, high-speed specialized vessels, and, on the other, reduction in the ship's speed to absorb tonnage redundancy, and lower speeds for other types of transport in order to reduce energy costs. Contradictory and complementary tendencies are the formation of powerful multi-lines, transport corridors to improve the efficiency of the transport process. On the other hand, the variance of traffic flows, the construction of relatively small highly specialized vehicles, containers with a clear "targeting" of destination, the development of feeder ways of supplying delivery.

The contradictions between the development of rolling stock and permanent devices, between linear and nodal elements of the system, are becoming more acute. Ports are usually lagging behind traffic, hierarchical port systems are formed in order to concentrate investments, while at the same time, competition between them is increasing. There are imbalances between the ports of the sending countries and the ports of the recipient countries. Hence - increasing the tendency to avoid port devices, organize uninterruptible systems (river-sea vessels, barge trucks, ferries, rolling ships, etc.).

One of the reasons for the excess of transport capacity is the aggravation of competition between rail and road transport (in the USA, the cost of motor transport is 60%, while the share in freight turnover is 26%, and the share in energy consumption of transport is 85%). From the "interception" of goods by road and from the "invasion" of a car into the sphere of railways, the US economy loses, according to some estimates, about $ 2 billion a year.

The cost characteristics of transportation of any product (transport tariff) are reflected directly at its final price, added to the costs of production, affect the competitiveness of products and the area of its sale. City transport is subsidized mainly by the state, regional and local authorities. However, their participation in this is different. In some countries, public investment provides the full amount of one-time and current costs (Belgium, Holland), in others they are practically not used (Canada, Denmark, United Kingdom).

These tendencies and processes that are typical for the modern and prospective transport situation and closely interact with the process of world development require careful research at the interdisciplinary level. Meanwhile, the general level of the study of world transport as a system began to decline.

Analysis of global transport trends shows that no country is able to control the risks of its own economy without having strong transport positions. World trends in transport development indicate that the period of protection in relation to modes of transport and carriers has been completed. At the present stage, the world transport system is characterized by great dependence on information technologies and is developing in the following areas: increasing the capacity of transport routes, improving traffic safety, the appearance of fundamentally new vehicles, increasing the capacity and carrying capacity of vehicles, increasing the speed of movement, timeliness, rhythm and environmental friendliness functioning of the transport system. The new requirements of the clientele to the quality of transportation service pushes the costs back.

The efforts of most countries are aimed at increasing the competitiveness of national transport and abandoning the quota system, as well as from tariff and other restrictions. They are replaced by the harmonization of transport legislation; the transport services market became more complicated, all segments of the transport process and logistics began to be integrated. As a natural result - the development of transport infrastructure of a new type - transport-warehouse and goods transport complexes, which formed a unified system of interaction; transport centers became the controlling elements of the system, which allowed to optimize the "through" tariffs.

This led to the transition of profitability point from the processes of physical transportation to the field of transport and logistics services. Against this background, the requirements for the environmental friendliness of transport are being strengthened. Hence the desire to maintain an acceptable share of the transport component in the price of the final product, while observing strict environmental and safety standards.

In the long term, in the countries with a market economy, progress is expected to develop further in transport. The structure of the railway network will undergo significant changes. Progress in transport will significantly improve its economic performance, improve the quality of customer service and traffic safety. In transport, there is a wide use of marketing, demand research, introduction of needs accounting, application of modeling, etc. It is expected to develop on the whole network of communication routes for computer system of SeaRates (connecting the currently existing railways, customers and banks), which will enable the inclusion of transport in the network of commercial exchanges.

Significant changes will occur in the vehicle fleet. Their number will increase somewhat, and the share of progressive types of traction will increase noticeably. The share of specialized rolling stock, its carrying capacity and specific capacity will increase. Modern scientists and inventors developed innovative transport,, which is definitely impressive. Imagine that more than a billion cars that travel around the world and consume trillions of dollars in material resources, fuel and harmful emissions, work without emissions for 100 years at only 8 grams of fuel each! In the United States, a new type of automobile engine is being developed from one of the densest materials known in nature: thorium, which has a huge potential for heat production by using laser nanotechnology.

Undoubtedly promising innovative vehicles are airships, underwater cruise and cargo ships (especially for the Arctic), string transport, private space vehicles up to tours to the Moon and Mars.

The development of transport infrastructure, increasing the competitiveness of goods and services plays a key role in the implementation of the transport strategy. It is necessary to fully utilize the transit potential associated with the special geographical location of the country as a natural transport corridor connecting the European, Asian-Pacific regions and the American continent (above all, the creation of a reliable and efficient transport mechanism between Europe and Asia along the Trans-Siberian Railway, reunited with the Trans-Korean Railway and the railways of Mongolia as one of the main routes for the delivery of containers from China to Europe and the Perspective build the Asia-Pacific Railway: Singapore - Bangkok - Beijing - Yakutsk - a tunnel under the Bering Strait - Vancouver - San Francisco - Denver); increasing the level of transport system security; reduction of the harmful impact of transport on the environment.

The recent openness of each national transport market makes new demands on the level of transport competitiveness. Obviously, the limitations associated with the underdevelopment of the unified transport system, disagreements in the tax, tariff, investment policies are revealed, which indicates the absence of a unified transport policy, effective mechanisms for its formation and implementation.

In the modern transport system, spatial mobility of the population occupies a special place, which is not yet adequate not only to the requirements of an innovative type of economic growth, but also to the needs of a market economy. 


D.I. Mendeleyev argued that transport is the center of the country's gravity. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, investments in the world transport system should make up over $ 11 trillion by 2030, including $ 5 trillion for the development of railways. 

In the coming years, serious infrastructural restrictions on the transport accessibility of certain regions and goods movement in international and domestic transport can arise in every country. The transportation system can become a factor in slowing economic growth. The share of goods transported by sea makes up less than 1% in certain countires freight turnover. At the same time, it is the sea transport that is the main vehicle of world trade, the growing international production. 

Road transport from the middle of the 20 th century became the leading among the types of land transport. The length of its network is growing and has reached 27.8 million km, with about 1/2 in the USA, India, Russia, Japan, and China. The level of motorization in the world is dominated by the US and Western European countries. Road transport also belongs to the priority in the volume of passenger transportation - 82% of the world volume.

There are still lots of things to do in the transport industry before the invention of the teleport. In meantime you can post your thoughts and questions in our Telegram Chat, and subscribe to the most interesting shipping events at our Telegram Channel

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