Now is the ideal time to solve logistic bottlenecks in Europe’s transport system

28 09 2011

By Franco Castagnetti, President of the TIGER Project

We are committed to achieving a more sustainable and compe

titive cargo mobility system in Europe and in my opinion the reduced traffic flow caused by the poor global economy provides an ideal window to implement improvements.

This will in turn create a more competitive environment in European industry and lead to increased freight mobility. So, we are urging organisations to improve the areas which will directly impact the efficiency of the logistics network throughout Europe – and there is actually no better time to do this than when traffic levels are at comparatively low ebb. If we act during the downturn, we can help inoculate infrastructure from some of the issues which prove so problematic during peek periods.

The TIGER Project is charged with identifying and solving port congestion in Europe. One of the primary causes of the congestion is the disconnect between the advanced state of maritime freight transport and the antiquated road and rail networks which the ports rely on to transport goods once they have been processed.

The introduction of new giant container vessels, capable of carrying huge amounts of cargo, unimaginable only a few years ago, has forced ports to invest heavily in upgrading their facilities to handle increased volume. Unfortunately, the road and rail networks responsible for moving this traffic, once it has arrived, have remained largely underdeveloped.

Logistics service providers, transport companies and intermodal operators are now demanding an overhaul of the current railway networks in order to solve this problem. As a result, we have identified a number of areas which we believe should be improved to ease future congestion issues and at Intermodal Europe, in Hamburg on 30 November 2011, logistics professionals are invited to discuss our findings which include:

  • The need for infrastructure investments to reduce already existing bottle necks.

New mega hubs, dry ports and freight villages are being built where concentrations of transport activities are developing in Europe. The TIGER project is relying on hinterland dry ports capable of handling the large quantities of cargo processed by the maritime industry. These dry ports will be positioned nearer to the final customers, reducing the distance to be covered by road, making the whole transport chain more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Significant investment in major port developments will help support these measures and existing projects, such as the Rivalta Terminal in Genoa Port, the mega hub Lehrte near Hannover, and the Munich Riem project in Hamburg and Bremerhaven, will all play crucial roles in easing congestion

  • The introduction of longer, faster and heavier trains.

Rail corridors in Europe are constantly congested due to the fact that they are used by both passengers and freight. Major infrastructure works on new rail lines are not realistic, due to budget constraints and the lengthy installation time involved, but increasing capacity is necessary to improve the movement of European cargo. The most effective way to produce additional capacity at lower costs is to maximise the amount of cargo transported using existing resources. By doubling the length of the existing trains, it has been calculated that a saving of up to 50% could be achieved, with only relatively small investments to the infrastructure in signaling, braking, and rolling stock required. These trains can become operational on a regular basis from ports to dry ports, and will lead to hubs and freight villages providing better service at considerably lower costs.

  • New technologies applied to both equipment and management systems.

Dry ports, hubs and freight villages should be constructed in close proximity to densely populated areas, making it simpler for logistics chains to access the final consumer market. By so doing, the last miles can be completed by more innovative means of transportation, including light cargo trains and hybrid or electric vehicles.

Mr Castagnetti will be revealing more details on the project’s findings at a free to attend conference session, hosted at Intermodal Europe 2011, the world’s leading event for container transport and logistics across the road rail and sea, which takes place in Hamburg on 29 November – 1 December 2011.