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The price of transport in Europe has sometimes gone up, and sometimes it has gone down. But today, it is at exactly the same level as it was in the first half of 2008.

That’s the finding of the 17th edition of the Transport Market Monitor which is produced by Transporeon and Capgemini Consulting.

The price index decreased by 0.6 per cent in Q3 2013 (index 100.0), compared to the price index in Q2 (index 100.6) and is now at the same level as a year ago – and the same level as when the index started in the first half of 2008.

Over that period of course, we have experienced a major recession and seen the green shoots of recovery (some of us several times). But despite all that and the effects of inflation, the price of transport is where it was five years ago.

The point is emphasised by Peter Förster, managing director of Transporeon: “Looking at the five year development of transport prices, we can see that the price level was undergoing ups and downs but in the long run, prices did not significantly go up: there was no continuous price increase in the transport market.”

Of course, the price of fuel has certainly been rising – the TMM index for diesel in the third quarter now stands at 105.9 – two percentage points up on the second quarter, but transport rates do not seem to be reflecting that increase.

And that opens up an intriguing possibility – that transport contracts are changing to be less dependent on fuel price developments. The idea is suggested by Dennis Wereldsma, managing consultant logistics at Capgemini.

Supply chain costs are heavily dependent on the cost of transport so it has to be good news for retailers and manufacturers. But of course, European markets are still depressed. A recent report from the European Commission suggested that real GDP in the second half of 2013 would be just 0.5 per cent up on a year ago.  But looking into next year it expects to see growth of 1.4 per cent in the EU.

The question is, will transport prices reflect that growth?


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