Scholarly article on topic 'CREAM “Customer-driven Rail-freight Services on a European Mega-corridor based on Advanced business and Operating Models”'

CREAM “Customer-driven Rail-freight Services on a European Mega-corridor based on Advanced business and Operating Models” Academic research paper on "Civil engineering"

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{"rail freight" / intermodality / interoperability / "border crossing" / terminals}

Abstract of research paper on Civil engineering, author of scientific article — Lars Deiterding, Niklas Galonske, Svenja Karcher

Abstract CREAM was an EU research project which aimed at improving rail freight between West and South East Europe. The project was set up first of all to shorten rail transport times on this axis and to cause a substantial modal shift towards rail. 30 partners from 13 countries were involved in this project - including railway companies, the UIC, transport operators, research institutes and consulting companies. Within CREAM the partners have developed organisational improvements, technological innovations and on this basis competitive rail-based transport solutions on a very demanding corridor. The project has been coordinated by HaCon and KombiConsult.

Academic research paper on topic "CREAM “Customer-driven Rail-freight Services on a European Mega-corridor based on Advanced business and Operating Models”"

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Social and Behavioral Sciences

ELSEVIER Procedía - Social and Behavioral Sciences 48 (2012) 2642 - 2653

Transport Research Arena- Europe 2012

"Customer-driven Rail-freight services on a European mega-corridor based on Advanced business and operating Models"

CREAM was an EU research project which aimed at improving rail freight between West and South East Europe. The project was set up first of all to shorten rail transport times on this axis and to cause a substantial modal shift towards rail. 30 partners from 13 countries were involved in this project - including railway companies, the UIC, transport operators, research institutes and consulting companies. Within CREAM the partners have developed organisational improvements, technological innovations and on this basis competitive rail-based transport solutions on a very demanding corridor. The project has been coordinated by HaCon and KombiConsult.

© 2012 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Selection and/or peer review under responsibility of the Programme Committee of the Transport Research Arena 2012

Keywords: rail freight; intermodality; interoperability; border crossing; terminals

♦Corresponding author. Tel.: +49-511-33699-132; fax: +49-511-33699-99. E-mail address',

Lars Deiterdinga'*? Niklas Galonskea, Svenja Karchera

aHaCon Ingenieugesellschaft mbH, Lister Straße 15, 30163 Hannover, Germany


1877-0428 © 2012 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Selection and/or peer review under responsibility of the Programme Committee of the Transport Research Arena 2012


1. Introduction

Initiated by important stakeholders of the railway business the CREAM project concentrated on responding to the increasing demand for rail-based logistic systems. Within the framework of the project, customer-driven rail-freight services were developed and offered on a European mega-corridor. This transport corridor has an entire length of about 3.150 km and draws a bow between Western and Central Europe and the Balkan states towards Turkey/Greece.

The CREAM project, coordinated by the German company HaCon, contained a number of activities, as there are organisational optimisations, technological developments and the initiation of innovative rail services. These activities were identified by the stakeholders operating on the corridor, e.g. infrastructure managers, railway undertakings, intermodal operators and their customers (see Figure 1). The project was primarily based on the corridor analysis and Corridor Action Plan, adopted in the framework of the TREND project (Towards new Rail freight quality and concepts in the European Network in respect to market Demand), which had been funded by the European Commission within the 6th Framework Programme as a Coordination Action.

As a result CREAM led to a considerable increase in rail freight transport on this important East-West freight corridor and thereby contributed to the EU transport policy goals. The project was funded by the European Commission as an Integrated Project within the 6th Framework Programme.

Coordinator HaCon Ingenieurgesellschaft mbH, Hannover, Germany

Project Management HaCon / KombiConsult

Project Manager HaCon Lars Deiterding

Railway Undertakings / Port-/Ferry Operator / Infrastructure Provider BDZ, CFR Marfa; Lokomotion; MAV Cargo, OSE, Keyrail, RCA, DB Schenker, RailionNL (until 12/2007), RTC, TCDD, SZ, MZ

Intermodal Operators / Freight Integrators / Customers ICA (until 12/2009), KombiverkehTj TRW (until 04/2009), DB Intermodal, Balnak, Okombi (since 10/2007), OZV (since 01/2008), Ekol (since 10/2008), IFB (since 05/2009)

Technology Provider Knorr-Bremse (until 08/2008), HaCon, Eureka (since 09/2008), Voith (since 03/2009)

Consultant / Research / Associations HaCon, KombiConsult, NTUA, OTB TU Delft, UIC

Duration 01/2007- 12/2011

Fig. 1. Project fact sheet (source: CREAM project)

2. Project Approach

Against the benchmarking business models of logistic service providers CREAM designed and validated advanced customer-driven business models for railway undertakings and intermodal operators. CREAM analysed the operational and logistic prerequisites for developing, setting up and demonstrating seamless rail freight and intermodal rail/road and rail/short-sea/road services on the Trans-European mega-corridor between the Benelux countries and Turkey, including field validation (see Figure 2).

CREAM developed business cases being integrated into an innovative corridor-related freight service concept, e.g. with respect to:

• Innovative rail-based supply chains including intelligent rail and multimodal operation models

• Quality management

• Interoperability and border crossing

• Integrated telematics solutions for train control, tracking & tracing of shipments and customer information

• Rail logistics for temperature-controlled cargoes

• Rail logistics for sensitive plate glass transport

• Technology for the transport of unaccompanied semi-trailers in intermodal transport.




* Quality Management Systems

Advanced Business —»Models

Innovative rail-based Supply Chains

Innovative Rail Operation Concepts

"Interoperability and Border Crossing

"Integrated Telematic Solutions

► Technology driven Business Cases

Improved Procedures

Business and Management Tools

New Telematic Solutions


DA 2 Business and Management Models

DA 3 Quality Management System

Rail freight services of partners on corridor

DA 4.2 "String of Pearls" and "New Shuttle" DA 4.3 Rail/Short Sea Multimodal Services

Improved Procedures incl. new Infrastructure

DA 6 Field

Validation of



DA 7 Application of new

Technologies in Services

RA 8 Coordination of Training/Demonstration Activities & Risk Management

RA 9 Horizontal Research Activities (Dissemination, Evaluation, Liaison)

TA 1 Continuous Learning and Cross Fertilisation

MA Management Activities

Fig. 2. Interrelation and interdependencies of CREAM work packages (source: CREAM project)

The business cases were demonstrated on a very challenging corridor (see Figure 3) that incorporates completely new rail infrastructure dedicated to rail freight, congested industrialized and rural areas, member states, accession states and candidate countries, as well as stakeholders including new entrant railway undertakings and customers from various market segments. All proposed business cases were field-validated in full-blown demonstrations during the 60 months project period.

CREAM can be regarded as an initiative which improved the overall situation for rail freight services on the defined corridor e.g. by streamlining operation practices by friction points and raising awareness at

political level. In consequence also rail services which are not or not entirely operated by CREAM partner companies profit from the developed solutions and improvements achieved in the various work packages.

Fig. 3. The CREAM Corridor - connecting central and south-east Europe (source: CREAM project)

3. Project activities and achievements

All project activities were directed to the idea of achieving customer satisfaction and meeting the requirements of today's logistic chains. The work back to a great extent on the findings of the TREND project with respect to customer needs and on an analysis of market requirements compared to the benchmark "door-to-door transport", which was carried out within the CREAM project by a dedicated work package. Specifically the CREAM project contributed to the improvement of rail freight by cutting transport time, streamlining processes between partners and implementing new technologies and service concepts (CREAM Procedures, CREAM Technologies and CREAM Services).

3.1. CREAM Procedures

3.1.1. Improved border crossings

One of the major issues to reduce the overall transport time of rail services in South-East Europe is the optimisation of border processes and related border stopping times. Within the research works for this topic 20 railway border crossings have been analysed on the CREAM corridor, taking into account the legal and technical framework (see Figure 4). For the comparison of borders with different characteristics a categorisation has been carried out, considering the necessary processes for crossing the border. In detail the following questions have been posed:

• Are technical and/or commercial trust agreements in place?

• Are operational standards on both sides of the borders harmonised?

• Are customs checks or border police control mandatory?

• Are processes organised in a common border station or carried out in two or more separate border stations?

Deriving from those questions a categorisation in three different categories was made (see Figure 4).


Common border crossing + 0 -

Mutual trust

- technical + 0 -

- commercial + 0 -

Operational standards harmonised + 0 -

Customs check / border control necessary - 0 +

+ fully applicable o partially applicable - not applicable

Fig. 4. Border crossings' categorisation (source: CREAM project)

Figure 5 depicts the results of the evaluation. 6 border crossings have been allocated to category A, 5 border crossings to category B and 9 border crossings to category C.

Fig. 5. Categories of analysed border crossings (source: CREAM project)

The different categorised border crossings were then analysed in detail. This resulted in the following characteristics of the three categories:

Category A borders show (almost) no impediments with "severe" negative effects. Single impediments with "considerable" negative effects mainly refer to the area "resources/technique" (rationalised infrastructure/personnel/rolling stock resources lead to bottleneck situation in case of increasing volumes, change of energy/signalling system requires multi system locomotives or loco change at the borders).

Category B borders also show no impediments with "severe" negative effects. Some impediments with "considerable" negative effects refer mainly to resources and operational organisation in single cases (lack of line locomotives, inadequate management of wagon detachments, operational problems due to missing pre-information about train arrivals, high effort of manual data input and control).

Category C borders show numerous impediments with "severe" and "considerable" negative effects, resulting from all criteria clusters, e.g. double border stations with double performed processes in case of EU-/non-EU-borders or exogenous effects as delayed train arrivals or infrastructural deficiencies on the connected lines (e.g. construction works). These impediments can cause additional operational problems within the stations, e.g. technical aspects, especially the change of energy and/or signalling system, lack of resources in single cases.

In parallel to the border crossing categorisation and analysis of conditions at border crossings the trains of project partners have been analysed with regard to their time consumption. According FTE-schedule rail transport speeds range between 20-40 km/h. The time share of border stops is 15-35 %. In operation average border stopping times are in general considerably longer than scheduled. Average delays have been identified for numerous rail services (sometimes in a range of 1-3 days) due to and resulting from missing timetable awareness of border staff. In general it was discovered, that at borders, where the level of cooperation between railway undertakings is high, the passage of the border is much faster, than for borders, where cooperation is comparably loose.

To boost the level of cooperation and to optimise the interfaces between the interacting parties at the border, the CREAM project initiated bilateral initiatives at seven concrete border crossings (marked with black frames in Figure 5); thereby integrating members of the railway undertakings, infrastructure managers, authorities and relevant customers to develop improved procedures, which were applied in a demonstration phase of the project. The improvement activities have been basically focussing on implementing electronic data exchange methods, procedures for advance notifications of train arrivals (pre-information) and on optimising the process organisation within the relevant border stations.

3.1.2. CREAM corridor related QualityManagementSystem (QMS)

The road transport sector set up a high benchmark of transport quality corresponding to the demands of the customers to transport services - operators, shippers, industry etc. Facing the need of achieving a competitive transport performance, the rail freight sector needs to establish, maintain and continually improve a high quality level of its transport services.

Due to growing industries in the south-east European countries, it is expected that international transport volumes will increase remarkably on the considered transport corridors. To win a high share of these volumes for rail, it is viable that rail transport offers a competitive quality level compared to road transport. Consequently one of the core activities of the CREAM project is the development of a corridor-wide Quality Management System (QMS), to reach and maintain a high level of quality for the rail freight services on the CREAM corridor. These purposes are linked with the requirements of the customers. Specifically the QMS aims at guaranteeing the following main characteristics:

• Scheduled and reliable transportation (in terms of punctuality, reliability, efficient resources management)

• Safety and security in terms of ensuring a reliable transportation of the load units

• Adherence of the agreed information flows (information management)

Practically the QMS backs mainly on harmonised procedures and clearly defined responsibilities for improving the interfaces between the partners. It is based on the definition and implementation of a quality manual, describing all relevant processes required for the delivery of the targeted quality objectives. A consistent implementation of this QMS is expected to create a win-win situation for all partners with following main benefits:

• better quality especially with regard to punctuality and reliability,

• optimised use of resources and therewith efficient services.

In order to achieve a structured/standardised implementation, the Quality Management System is based on elements of international certification models such as ISO 9001. All partner signed a Management Commitment concerning the fulfilment of the commonly specified quality standards for the CREAM corridor services.

3.1.3. Service specific implementation of interoperable traction

One of the main advantages of interoperability is the acceleration of transports and the improvement of service reliability by reducing the number of traction changes. Therefore possibilities for a reorganization of traction schemes in this sense have been evaluated and implemented by the project partners.

In connection with the work package on border crossing processes some trains were selected for implementing interoperable service on parts of the served line. The negotiations with the responsible traction companies covered economic issues related to modified loco-circling, the power of used locomotives and possibilities for maintenance and availability of reserves. Interoperable traction could be implemented only to a limited extent due to following reasons: In consequence of the economic crisis, some trains on the CREAM corridor - selected for the demonstration - were cancelled totally or on parts of the routing. Another problem occurred when the timetable was shifted, so the economic locomotive circling could not be realized.

For the following train runs opportunities for implementing interoperable traction have been evaluated with the following results (status 2009):

• Mannheim-Inoi (train numbers 40512/40513): Depending on the new timetable there is no economic interoperable loco-circling possible.

• Lambach - Thessaloniki (train numbers 40607/40608): For this train there could not be elaborated an economic interoperable loco-circling.

• Genk - Ordea (train numbers 40672/40673): 12 trains were operated interoperable, then depending on the new timetable there was no economic interoperable loco-circling possible.

• Wels - Halkali (trains numbers 40636/40637): There is no economic interoperable loco-circling possible, because this train is only operated every two weeks.

• Koln - Kosekoy (train numbers 40666/40667): For this train there could not be elaborated an economic interoperable loco-circling.

• Zeltweg - Vintu de Jos (train numbers 41360/41361): As RCA has reached the certification for safety for freight services in Romania 2009, the launch of interoperable hauled trains was initiated by train 41 360. This train was successful operated 28 times since the change of the timetable.

• Munich - Ljubljana (train numbers 41860/41861 and 41863): Interoperable traction implemented on a regularbasis; in early 2009 the interoperable operations were temporarily stopped due to the lack of locos.

3.2. CREAM Technologies

3.2.1. Temperature controlled cargo in intermodal transport

Based on the aim to develop road-competitive intermodal services, designed for goods required to be carried under temperature control, the CREAM partners treated the respective technical requirements and working procedures and finally developed a coherent solution. The main challenges had been to ensure the energy supply and the temperature control and monitoring during the rail transport and at breaking points. Having investigated the appropriate intermodal equipment, including craneable thermal semitrailers, swap bodies and euro-pallet-wide domestic containers, for the first demonstrator innovative piggyback semi-trailers have been procured. These are equipped with self-sustained diesel supply, generator and integrated GPS/GSM module and are used for the intermodal transport of packaged pharmaceuticals and chemicals from manufacturing plants to the warehouses. The first respective intermodal service on the corridor started in April 2008. The innovative solution raised a wide interest from other logistic service providers.

3.2.2. ISU- Handling technology/or non-craneable semi-trailers

To attract the still increasing volume of non-craneable semi-trailers for intermodal transport solutions, the CREAM project exploited the results of studies performed so far and transferred the basic solutions from the integrated project "BRAVO" (6th Framework Program) to the circumstances of the CREAM corridor. Whereas in BRAVO the ISU technology by RCA proved its functional capability from the technical point of view, CREAM focused on the implementation of the technology.

This included the improvement of the system's components and wagons as well as the selection of appropriate terminals. Furthermore the corridor infrastructure had been examined concerning the loading gauge on the background of the different requirements set up by different equipment techniques. The main advantages of this technology are the following:

• Possible use of multiple common wagon types

• Minor adaptations on the wagons, if at all

• Simple construction of additional handling equipment

• Flexibility, use of common terminal equipment, no additional large scale infrastructure in the terminals

• Working processes in the terminal comparable with today-practice

• "Automation" of the loading and unloading process possible

• Integration into existing terminal procedures.

Several demonstration runs have been carried out between Wels and Istanbul/Halkali via Serbia and Stara Zagora via Romania. A commercial demonstration is running between Wels and the Railport in Arad/Curtici (RO) since 11/2010.

3.2.3. FLOATRAILER -Aplate glass semi-trailer capable of intermodal services

To capture the market of plate glass from road to conventional intermodal transport the CREAM partners analysed the required framework conditions. A basic necessity was the adjustment of the specialised semi-trailers available for plate glass transport and to retrofit them for combined transport rail/road. Based on a concept developed by the German forwarding company Offergeld, a prototype semitrailer was designed, built and demonstrated in selected intermodal trains on the corridor. Now, the semitrailer has series maturity and is produced regularly. Demonstration test runs have been executed to show the technical and commercial viability.

3.2.4. Train Monitor - Real time tracking and tracing

Within the Cream project a new tracking and tracing software system was developed - Train Monitor by HaCon in collaboration with Kombiverkehr. Train Monitor is a web-based software system for monitoring the movements of trains. It is well suited for use in the entire transport corridor considered by CREAM between the Netherlands/Belgium and Greece/Turkey. Train Monitor had been adapted to the specific needs of the intermodal transport operator Kombiverkehr and integrates information from the transhipment terminals. However, the selected approach can easily be translated to other operators as well as to railway companies active in freight and passenger transport thanks to the modular system architecture.

As a GPS tracking device the NavMaster system by Eureka was adjusted to the CREAM specific necessities.

Further information about Train Monitor is given in a separate paper.

3.3. CREAM Services

3.3.1. New intermodal services - "String-of-pearls" network

Intermodal rail-road and rail-ferry services are essential to contribute to a modal shift and provide sustainable transport chains. Within the CREAM project the involved market players jointly developed a network of rail-based intermodal transport services on the European mega-corridor with the corner stones Rotterdam/Antwerp and Istanbul/Athens (cp. figure 6). Joining their forces, different and complementary services between selected hubs were established and demonstrated. In addition to the existing services, these new services were a further step in the "string-of-pearls" concept, which led to an extension of the existing intermodal production network in central Europe towards the south-eastern part of the corridor.


I Ant wet |> hk-Neuss

Oleai 4 fteiik 1 Colonne

Wum* Lwlwiyshiife» .


The CREAM partners'freight train network

Open & unaccompanied intermodal services of

■ Kombiverkehr/Adria Kombi a Rail Cargo Austria

■ Inter Ferry Boats

■ MZ Transport



■ Other CREAM services


Sefio 1 Sknfije

Status: 03/2011

Figure 6. The CREAM partners' freight train networks (source: CREAM project)

Basically the two "dry" Pan-European corridors number IV via Hungary/Romania/Bulgaria and number X via Slovenia and West-Balkan states as well as a true trimodal road/rail/short-sea service between Germany and Turkey via Trieste have been experienced and brought to market.

Nodal points, such as the ports of Rotterdam and Antwerp, the Rhein-Ruhr (Duisburg, Neuss) and Rhein-Neckar (Ludwigshafen) area as well as the industrial areas in Austria were connected via gateway/hub terminals München, Wels/Wien, Sopron and Ljubljana with transport areas in South-East Europe such as Budapest, Arad, Sofia, Skopje/Thessaloniki and Istanbul.

A common understanding of the customer's needs of frequent, reliable and punctual rail connections underlying the intermodal services as part of logistics chains was reached between the involved railway undertakings, intermodal operators and terminal operators.

These services targeted at continental and maritime trade lanes between the countries of this European mega-corridor and are about to last and even be improved after the end of the demonstration project by the market parties Kombiverkehr, Inter Ferry Boats and Ökombi jointly with their respective partners such as Ekol, Adria Kombi or Intercontainer Austria.

In the 4th year of the project (2010) the rail freight services offered by the project partners on the corridor were increased by more than one billion tonne-kilometres p.a.

3.3.2. Initiatives for terminal developments in South-East Europe

Having regarded the importance of adequate intermodal terminals for the future development of the "string-of-pearls" concept and intermodal services in common, the existing terminals on the corridor had been investigated and analysed by specialised experts from the CREAM partners. Especially in the south eastern part the terminals have to cope with significant bottlenecks. Specifically the situation for Sofia has been analysed and identified as a white spot on the map for intermodal transhipment facilities. In result the operators among the CREAM partners signed a joint declaration to support a terminal building in Sofia. In the meantime there has de facto been built a terminal - Sofia Yana.

3.3.3. New multimodal Rail-Sea-Service

In addition to the main rail routes between Western and South-East Europe on the corridors IV and X within the CREAM project an alternative multi-modal transport solution was initiated, integrating short-sea-services between Turkey and central Europe (see Figure 7). The transport chain of the new service contains following stretches:

• Turkey - pre-/on carriage by trucks

• Short-sea connection Turkey - Trieste (Italy) / Koper (Slovenia)

• Shuttle train Trieste / Koper - Worms (Germany)

• Pre-/on carriage to/from Worms by truck.

Fig. 7. New multimodal rail-sea-service from Turkey to Worms and further (source: EKOL)

Until end of February 2011, 11.661 trailers have been transported on this intermodal route (in the period October 2008 - February 2011). Since June 2011, the service is operated with six roundtrips per week (6 exports, 6 imports).

4. Conclusions

Even if complicated political and technical circumstances sometimes hampered the progress of certain project parts, the results of the CREAM project activities speak for themselves. The transport time could be reduced on many relations; e.g. for the Ljubljana - Halkali rail service even by 28%. The aimed at improvement of rail transport volumes by additionally 200 million tonne-kilometres had been exceeded massively. The rail transport volumes improved by 1 billion tonne-kilometres per year already in the first four years of the project's lifetime.

The CREAM project and its various initiatives supported the development of rail freight with dedicated technological and organisational solutions on the one hand and general improvement measures like improved border processes on the other hand.

As an international and multi-disciplinary project it also had and still has a significant effect on the knowledge transfer between the different railway companies and supports the merging railway market in Europe.


BRAVO (2007), Brenner Rail Freight Action Strategy Aimed At Achieving A Sustainable Increase Of Intermodal Transport Volume By Enhancing Quality, Efficiency And System Technologies, EC co-fonded project(FP 6)

INHOTRA (2003), Interoperable Intermodal Horizontal Transhipment project, EC co-fonded project (FP 5)

SAIL(2002), Semitrailers in Advanced Intermodal Logistics project, EC co-fonded project (FP 5)

"Study on infrastructure capacity reserves for combined transport by 2015", commissioned by UIC and UIRR (May 2004)

TREND (2006), Towards new Rail freight quality and concepts in the European Network in respect to market Demand, EC co-funded project (FP 6),