Transport systems, which are operated at the global scale, are the expansion of the need for links between both individual nations and trading blocs, and have complex spatial networks. Many changes have encouraged movements on the international scale since the mid-twentieth century. Technological advances have provided us with high-capacity jet airlines, ships which carry over millions of tonnes of goods over thousands of kilometres, and movements at the global scale are now within the reach of ever-increasing numbers of people and commercial enterprises. The rapid expansion of transnational manufacturing companies in particular has also been responsible for much of the increase in international traffic.
Almost all long distance travel is now by air and the expansion of tourism has produced a demand for many additional schedule and charter service. Although international transport has several facets, which needs detailed analysis, but the present article considers the international movement of freight and passengers at various scales and by different modes, that too in the form of an introduction.
International Air Transport:
Although the world’s air transport networks were largely pioneered prior to World War II, the origins of mass air travel at least in the developed world date back no earlier than circa 1960. Since then, aggregate growth rates have been quite dramatic, albeit punctuated by short-term fluctuations caused by external events such as economic recession and the Gulf War of 1991, which severally depressed demand for air travel.
Latterly, however, the aviation industry, buoyed by increased profits resulting from the global economic upturn of the mid-1990s, remains bullish about long-term growth trends, despite concerns about fuel supplies and costs, shortages of airport capacity in many key markets, and the negative environmental impacts of air transport.
The aggregate growth in demand for air transport has been fuelled by two principal factors growing disposable incomes in developed countries, accompanied by radical changes in the geopolitics of the industry which have resulted in government regulation and control increasingly being replaced by an ethos of deregulation, liberalisation, privatisation and increased competition.
Maritime transport carries over 75 per cent of all world trade by tonnage and 80 per cent of this is in the form of bulk traffic.
The four major categories of maritime freight are as follows:
(i) Crude petroleum, which accounted for 32 per cent of all international tonnage.
(ii) Dry bulk cargoes; principally iron ore, chemicals and grains.
(iii) Container and other unitised traffic.
(iv) Conventional freight, usually described as general cargo.
The major ocean trade routes of the world are as follows:
- The North Atlantic Route:
This route links Western Europe and eastern North America.
- The Mediterranean-Asiatic Route:
This route connects Europe with countries of Asia, Australia, and New Zealand as well as with east African countries. The Suez Canal is the chief nodal point of this route.
- The Cape of Good Hope Route:
This route connects the highly industrial west Europe with Australia, New Zealand via South Africa.
- The European Eastern South American Route:
This route is across the Atlantic Ocean and connects Western Europe with South American countries. The other important ocean routes are: North American- East South American Route from New York to Cape Saw Rogue, North American-Western South American Route via Panama Canal, North Pacific Route (Vancouver to Yokohama), North American-Australasian Route (from New York and Vancouver to Sydney and Wellington via Honolulu), Indian Ocean Routes, etc.
International Surface Passenger Transport (ISPT):
Most of the international transport is performed by air and sea routes. This has become possible because of certain international agreements between nations of the world. But, in case of land or surface transport, this has not been possible due to political barriers. Although certain railways and roads are doing this work through mutual political agreements, but that too is very limited. The best example of ISPT is the Europe, where surface transport between nations has become possible after the formation of the European Union.
The use of the term “trans-European transport network” (singular) here is significant; the EC has confirmed the importance of the “integration of land, sea and air networks”, taking account of the comparative advantages of each mode, and encouraging ‘interoperability’ within modes and ‘inter- modality’ between them.
Several other general principles have been set out as underpinnings for European transport policy into the next century. A key concept is “sustainable mobility of persons and goods”, which satisfies the Community’s aspirations in terms of “social and safety conditions”, competition, environmental protection and economic and social cohesion. The sustainable mobility theme had been adopted in a reassessment of the Common Transport Policy in 1992 (CEC, 1992), and developed more thoroughly as regards passenger transport in the Commission’s Greene Paper, The Citizens’ Network (CEC, 1996).
Two rather more cautious ideals also feature in the 1996 trans-European transport network document: that the network should “allow the maximum use of existing capacities” and “be, insofar as possible, economically viable”. Finally, the importance of connections with non-EU neighbours in recognised by a requirement that the Community’s transport networks should be “capable of connection” to those in European Free Trade Association (EFTA) states, countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean countries.
While it shares the stage with the other modes in this integrated Common Transport Policy, the Community has endorsed its desire to revive the significance of rail transport for both domestic and international transport. A prominent role is confirmed for rail in the trans-European transport network, including conventional passenger services and combined/ intermodal freight, but most prominently in the form of a comprehensive trans-European network of high-speed passenger train services.