Scholarly article on topic 'The Urban Context of Intermodal Road-Rail Transport – Threat or Opportunity for Modal Shift?'

The Urban Context of Intermodal Road-Rail Transport – Threat or Opportunity for Modal Shift? Academic research paper on "Social and economic geography"

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Abstract of research paper on Social and economic geography, author of scientific article — S.önke Behrends

Abstract Until recently, research did not pay much attention to the implications for intermodal road-rail transport (IRRT) arising from its urban context, and urban freight and IRRT are still handled as separate policy concerns. This paper examines the relationship between urban transport and IRRT with the goal of identifying possible actions on a local level to improve both the competitiveness and environmental benefits of rail freight. Based on a literature review of the stakeholders’ perspectives on urban freight transport, a framework for sustainable urban freight transport is developed and applied on IRRT. The results show that the urban context is a threat for further growth of rail freight since an increasing transport demand faces capacity constraints in urban areas. Local authorities can play a key role in enabling the required public-private cooperation on a local and regional level by involving all stakeholders in the strategic land-use and transport planning processes.

Academic research paper on topic "The Urban Context of Intermodal Road-Rail Transport – Threat or Opportunity for Modal Shift?"

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Procedía - Social and Behavioral Sciences 39 (2012) 463 - 475

The Seventh International Conference on City Logistics

The urban context of intermodal road-rail transport - Threat or opportunity for modal shift?

Sönke Behrendsa*

aChalmers University of Technology, Department of Technology Management and Economics, 41296 Gothenburg, Sweden


Until recently, research did not pay much attention to the implications for intermodal road-rail transport (IRRT) arising from its urban context, and urban freight and IRRT are still handled as separate policy concerns. This paper examines the relationship between urban transport and IRRT with the goal of identifying possible actions on a local level to improve both the competitiveness and environmental benefits of rail freight. Based on a literature review of the stakeholders' perspectives on urban freight transport, a framework for sustainable urban freight transport is developed and applied on IRRT. The results show that the urban context is a threat for further growth of rail freight since an increasing transport demand faces capacity constraints in urban areas. Local authorities can play a key role in enabling the required public-private cooperation on a local and regional level by involving all stakeholders in the strategic land-use and transport planning processes.

© 2012 Published by El sevier Ltd . Stele ction and/or peer-review under responsibility of 77th International Conference on City Logistic s

Keywords: Urban transport; freight transport; intermodal transport; modal shift; land use; urban planning

1. Introduction

The ever-increasing freight transport demand is mainly met by road freight, which imposes significant negative impacts on society, the economy and the environment. The impacts usually mentioned in the literature are air pollution; climate change; noise; disturbance to nature, the landscape, water and ground sealing; separation in urban areas; scarcity of space in urban areas; reduction in natural visibility; accidents; and additional effects from upstream/downstream processes [1]. A key policy objective for the

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1877-0428 © 2012 Published by Elsevier Ltd. Selection and/or peer-review under responsibility of 7th International Conference on City Logistics doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2012.03.122

freight sector's sustainable development is therefore to reduce the imbalance in the development of the different transport modes and to transfer freight to less environmentally damaging modes like rail.

However, there are also studies which are pessimistic about rail freight's potential contribution to energy usage reduction and environmental improvement [2]. As the accessibility of the rail network is relatively low, pick-up and delivery to and from rail terminals by diesel trucks (pre- and post haulage, PPH) are required which often take place in urban areas. Kreutzberger, Macharis & Woxenius [3] therefore argue that although total external effects are lowered, unwise use of intermodal road-rail transport (IRRT) can add to impacts in urban areas, where the negative effects of emissions, congestion and land use are most severe.

At the same time, PPH traffic shares the same infrastructure with passenger cars and the land intensive rail terminals compete with other land-use forms, e.g., non-logistics businesses and housing for a limited physical space, decreasing the ability to achieve high levels of freight transport efficiency. PPH therefore accounts for a large fraction of total transport costs of the intermodal chain despite its relatively short distance compared to the rail-haul, limiting the markets on which IRRT can compete with all-road transport [4]. Furthermore, the limited market coverage of rail freight caused by the reorganisation of major railway networks is a significant barrier to modal shift. Rich, Kveiborg & Hansen [5] show in an analysis for the Scandinavian region that a majority of all transports less than 500 km have truck as the only alternative. As a result, transport customers located in peripheral regions lacking access to rail freight services are dependent on road freight. Many regional and local governments have feared an increase in truck traffic and a deterioration of the quality of logistic services for their local industries [6].

Given the importance of the urban context for reducing the environmental impact, as well as enhancing the effectiveness and increasing the accessibility of IRRT, understanding its urban dimension is important for developing both more efficient intermodal transport systems and sustainable cities. A substantial work of research addresses the dilemma of environmental impacts and efficiency of urban freight transport focusing on urban deliveries and city logistics [7-9] as well as seaport gateways [10, 11]. Until recently, however, research did not pay much attention to the implications for IRRT networks arising from its urban context, although the urban transport system is an essential element since it enables rail operators to reach shippers and receivers by road. Furthermore, urban freight and IRRT are still handled as separate policy concerns and their interactions are not considered in policy planning [12]. Accordingly, this paper examines the relationship between urban transport and IRRT with the goal to identify possible actions on a local level to improve both the competitiveness and environmental benefits of rail freight.

The paper is structured as follows. Based on a literature review of the stakeholders' perspectives on urban freight transport (section 2) a framework for sustainable urban freight transport planning is developed (section 3) and applied on intermodal road-rail transport (section 4). The implications are discussed and potential actions on a local level outlined (section 5). The final section presents the conclusions.

2. Urban freight transport

Urban areas are complex systems consisting of numerous actors with many interactions and varying interests. Hence, cities need to meet social, environmental, political and cultural objectives as well as economic and physical ones [13]. Meeting these different objectives is especially challenging in urban freight transport. Behrends, Lindholm and Woxenius [14] define sustainable urban freight transport as a transport system that fulfils all the following objectives (p. 704):

• to ensure the accessibility offered by the transport system to all categories of freight transport

• to reduce air pollution, green house gas emissions, waste and noise to levels without negative impacts

on the health of the citizens or nature

• to improve the resource- and energy efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the transportation of goods, taking into account the external costs, and

• to contribute to the enhancement of the attractiveness and quality of the urban environment by avoiding accidents and minimising the use of land without compromising the mobility of citizens.

The key stakeholders of urban freight transport are shippers and receivers, freight carriers, residents and authorities. In this section the stakeholders' roles and objectives in urban freight transport are outlined.

2.1. Shippers and receivers

A prerequisite for a functioning economy is the accessibility of goods to the facilities where the economic activities take place. Providing this accessibility is the main function of urban freight transport and it is the accessibility needs which drive the whole urban freight transport system. Each economic activity can be associated with a specific profile of freight generation, which is constant from one city to another [8]. Supply chain strategies form the basis for the quality levels required of transport and there is a general trend of increasing service requirements since decreasing product life cycles and increasing product values have led to innovative logistics approaches like JIT with less storage and more frequent deliveries [15]. In order to meet the demand for quick and precise delivery, distribution firms respond by rationalising flows. Distribution is therefore increasingly planned and operated on the basis of nationally designed networks and logistics functions are gradually concentrated in regions with access both to traditional gateways of trade and to large consumer markets connecting regional and long-distance relations [16]. Thus, global logistics are increasingly organised through large-scale gateways, which are often located in urban regions since the urban locations confer accessibility advantages for transport and logistics hubs [17].

2.2. Transport operators

The transport operators provide the transport services demanded by the shippers and receivers. The required quality of service determines the amount of transport resources needed to produce the service. Transport quality includes: 1) speed of movement, 2) frequency of service, 3) reliability of service, 4) accessibility of service and 5) susceptibility to loss and damage [18]. The major issue for the operators is how to achieve high resource utilisation in providing the demanded transport quality. Narrow time windows and smaller consignments lead to an increased number of trucks being used, making it more difficult to achieve economies of scale [19]. In addition, the urban environment characterised by scarcity of access, e.g., congested roads, space constraints and limitations of infrastructure restricts the efficiency and quality of freight operations [16]. Congestion at terminals and access roads reduces transport speed and decreases the reliability to meet the scheduled times of arrivals and inadequate loading and unloading facilities reduces the facilities' accessibility.

2.3. Residents

Transport operations have significant adverse impacts on the quality of life for people living and working in cities. Urban areas constitute the living environment of the vast majority of the population in Europe and the demands on a high quality of life increase [20]. Though freight transport operations in cities represent only 20% to 30% of road traffic, it accounts for up to 50% of the emission of air pollutants (depending on the pollutant considered) by transport activities in a city [8]. These impacts

reduce the quality of the urban environment, including a weakened sense of public space, neighbourhood and community, with negative long-term effects for the image and attractiveness of congested and polluted urban areas. Consequently, citizens perceive freight traffic as a disturbing factor for local sustainability. The main impacts that should be underlined in an EU context are [21]:

• Noise: 100 million urban citizens are exposed to traffic noise above 55dB(A), 40 million over 65 dB(A).

• 97% of urban citizens are exposed to levels of PM10 exceeding EU limits (44% for ozone).

• Health and safety: Premature deaths and higher levels of illness through poor air quality and sedentary lifestyles.

• Exposure to higher safety risks as one fatal accident in two occurs within urban areas.

• Substantial economic costs of congestion and accessibility bottlenecks, accounting for 0.5% of GDP.

2.4. Local authorities

Local and regional authorities have mandates on important policy areas that relate to urban freight transport. They are responsible for land-use and transportation planning and aim at increasing the region's accessibility as well as alleviating the negative effects on the environment and quality of life. The challenge for urban planning is that regional economic development and local sustainability often involve conflicting goals. On the one hand, it is the locality of freight transport infrastructure, e.g., terminals and their access roads that suffer from their extensive land use and traffic externalities, since it is in urban areas where the unsustainable impacts of freight transport are most severe. On the other hand, it is the location of economic activity that creates the foundation for regional welfare. Cities face global competition for investment and an efficient transport system is necessary for sustained economic prosperity. Hence, the availability of and access to infrastructure is a critical success factor for regional development [22]. O'Kelly [23] shows that hubs of inter-regional freight transport networks often confer economic benefits on the region in which they are located because they provide a direct connection to many destinations and are ideal accessible places for distribution centres. Lakshmanan [24] argues that the improvement of infrastructure increases accessibility, which opens up markets and influences economic performance, and Gutiérrez, Kitchin, & Thrift [25] state that regions with high levels of accessibility to the locations of input materials and markets tend to be more competitive than peripheral and remote regions. Hence, logistics capabilities are important for the economic development of regions [26] and are therefore a frequently used argument in city marketing aiming to attract more economic activities and settlements [27].

As a result, local authorities find themselves in constant tension between local sustainable development and freight transport network performance. On the one hand, shippers and receivers require efficient links to the gateways of inter-regional transport networks, while on the other hand increasing freight traffic is a threat for local sustainable development.

2.5. Integrated transport planning

A widely recognised prerequisite for reaching sustainable transport is integrated transport planning. May, Kelly, & Shepherd [28] distinguish between three different forms of integration: 1) operational integration; 2) strategic integration between transport policy and land use; and 3) institutional integration within local, regional and national governments. Further, to attain active citizen support, new forms of communication between citizens and experts and the involvement of all major stakeholders are needed [29]. The European Commission highlights the importance of integrated solutions involving stakeholders, citizens and other planning departments in their Green Paper towards a new culture for urban mobility

[20] and strongly recommends that authorities develop and implement Sustainable Urban Transport Plans (SUTP). The SUTP is an integrated approach to manage urban transport by adopting long-term and strategic action plans with the goal of overcoming deficits in the coordination and cooperation across administrative borders (city and surroundings, agglomerations across regional/national borders), as well as between authorities in national hierarchies (local, regional, national governments) regarding their respective plans and policies. The SUTP aims at improving qualities of the planning approach in terms of procedures and actor relations as well as designing planning instruments to ensure the efficient implementation of policies and measures.

3. Framework for sustainable urban freight transport

Based on the analysis above, a conceptual framework for sustainable urban freight transport is constructed (Fig. 1). The framework includes three subsystems, i.e., logistics, transportation and urban planning. Logistics deals with the movement of products on links of a supply chain between facilities where economic activities are executed. The transport demand for each link can be described in terms of shipment size, frequency, lead-time, delivery precision and flexibility. Transportation provides the flow of goods such as pallets or containers moved by vehicles, e.g., trucks or trains between nodes where transhipments, consolidation, etc. take place. Urban planning integrates land-use planning and transportation planning to improve the built and social environment of urban regions. It provides land and transport infrastructure, e.g., roads and rail tracks on which vehicle movements take place.

The subsystems are connected by markets, on which the demand and supply in each element are met. On the transport market the material flow demand is matched by the supply of transport services, resulting in actual goods flows, which generate demand for vehicle flows. This demand is matched by the supply of transport infrastructure capacity on the traffic market. The land-use market connects the logistics system with urban planning. Since urban areas are complex systems with various stakeholders representing different interests, logistics and freight actors face competition with other stakeholders in these markets. In urban areas freight and passenger vehicles share the same infrastructure and compete with one another for limited infrastructure capacity. In the land-use market logistics facilities and transport infrastructure compete with other land-use forms, e.g., businesses and housing for a limited physical space.

The framework highlights that logistics, transportation and urban planning are complementary systems with strong interdependencies. For example, Geurs & van Wee [30] show that the availability of transportation co-determines location decisions of economic facilities, which leads to changes in the land-use system. Furthermore, improving freight transport capabilities can also induce changes in logistics operations and hence foster transport demand [16]. Thus, to achieve a sustainable urban freight transport system, which meets the economic, social and environmental goals of all stakeholders, integrated planning is needed that connects all stakeholders and markets. Central planning principles are [21]:

• The existence of an urban freight transport strategy, which is embedded in an overall sustainable development strategy with a long-term perspective;

• Regional scope, defining the whole "urban agglomeration" as the transport planning area; and defining responsibilities to ensure full commitment;

• Stakeholder consultation, to secure transparency and to improve the quality, acceptance, effectiveness and legitimacy of the actions;

• Actor cooperation and policy coordination, to ensure integration between all transport modes and policy sectors, as well as geographical coverage of the entire functional urban agglomeration; and

• Capacity building, in order to ensure that personnel have the necessary skills.


Fig. 1. Framework for sustainable urban freight transport (adopted from [31])

4. The urban context of intermodal road-rail transport

Intermodal transport is the combination of two or more transport modes in one transport chain. The fundamental idea behind intermodal transport is that the service and cost advantages of each transport mode are joined together in order to improve the overall efficiency of the transport system [32]. The by far biggest distance is performed by large-scale transport modes like rail where shipments are consolidated and economies of scale are being achieved. Road transport is assigned to the short-haul, which involves the provision of an empty intermodal loading unit to the shipper and the subsequent transportation of a full loading unit to the intermodal terminal. Intermodal road-rail transport thus increases the reach of rail and enhances the efficiency of the transport system. Since intermodal terminals as well as shippers and receivers are often located in urban areas, urban transport systems are an essential element of intermodal road-rail transport.

In this section, the implications for intermodal road-rail transport arising from the urban context are analysed. The framework with its main elements of logistics, transportation, urban planning and integrated planning developed in the previous section frames the analysis.

4.1. Logistics

Generally, there is a trend of increasing requirements shippers have on costs and quality (e.g., transport time, frequency, reliability, etc.) of transport services. Decreasing product life cycles and increasing product values lead to innovative logistics approaches like JiT with less storage and more frequent deliveries. As a consequence, patterns of sourcing and distribution as well as scheduling of freight flows have resulted in smaller and more frequent shipments. Timing, frequency and punctuality are now of

significant relevance in freight movements since they are part of supply chain management strategies [33]. The increasing customer demands on transport quality have limited the scope of rail to maintain market shares and many industries have increased their reliance on road transport [34].

Another significant trend is an increased environmental awareness. Minimising the environmental impact has gained significant importance and it is expected that the logistics industry will become a trendsetter and establish new standards for cooperative efforts and "green" business [35]. There are clearly big expectations amongst manufacturers and retailers that rail will be able to provide a viable alternative to road freight transport in the future [34]. Yet, according to an analysis made by Lammgard [36], shippers in Sweden see only limited possibilities to implement modal shift measures due to a lack of quality of today's intermodal road-rail transport services.

4.2. Transportation

For continental traffic intermodal transport suffers from a number of problems that restrict its competitiveness, especially over short distances. The consolidation of freight flows for filling trains requires transhipments that produce additional handling cost and time. This impedance of consolidation has been and still is an incentive for intermodal rail freight operators to simplify their networks towards direct links - that is, the trains stay at the terminal throughout the day and are operated overnight as full trains between terminals [37]. The rail operators only provide services where the conditions are extremely favourable [38] resulting in a highly concentrated rail network with a relatively small number of nodes focusing on a limited number of high-volume corridors. This reorganisation of major railway networks, driven by the need to improve their financial performance, causes a withdrawal of railway services in regions with low traffic volumes [6]. As a consequence, transport customers located in peripheral regions lack access to rail freight services and are dependent on road freight. Rich, Kveiborg & Hansen [5] show in an analysis for the Scandinavian region that a majority of all transports less than 500 km have truck as the only alternative.

The cost-efficiency of road-rail intermodal transport is particularly sensitive to PPH costs since this activity typically has a larger cost mass compared to its share of the total distance of the transport chain [39]. Kreutzberger, Konings & Aronson [40] illustrate that the factors that are crucial for the cost performance are the location of shippers around a terminal (hence distance); the freight volumes per shipper or area (hence density); the resource productivity, e.g., labour or fuel costs; and the network productivity, e.g., number of round trips per load unit and loading/unloading times. The operations are very fragmented with various PPH companies serving each terminal and distribution resulting in many additional empty trips [41]. In addition, the resource productivity is determined to a large extent by the legal framework for the transport market. It is a complex business burdened by a large number of restrictive governmental directives and regulations, including maximum vehicle dimensions and weights, operator licensing, limits on driver working times, etc. Furthermore, the centralised intermodal production system leads to concentrated PPH flows and waiting times at the large-scale intermodal terminals [42].

The possibilities for efficient PPH are further burdened by the urban context of the operations. Since terminals as well as shippers and receivers are usually located in or in the vicinity of urban areas, constraints on the local road network may have an effect on the movement to collect or deliver intermodal units [43]. PPH shares the infrastructure with passenger traffic and hence is affected by urban congestion, reducing the resource and network productivity. In addition, waiting times at terminals are further increased when the hours of terminal operation are limited due to public planning restrictions when located near residential areas [43].

4.3. Urban planning

Though rail transport networks are dominated by national planning, there is a clear role for the land-use planning system and other local authority functions in facilitating the growth of rail freight [44]. Local authorities are expected to have due regard for rail freight facilities when formulating their development plans and in determining planning applications [43]. Sites that offer potential for intermodal terminals where road-rail interchange could take place should be protected for future development and new freight developments should be served by rail wherever possible. Yet, careful integration of new logistics developments in the urban transport system is generally neglected [45]. Lindholm & Behrends [27] found in an analysis of cities in the Baltic Sea Region that spatial planning rarely includes freight transport factors during the development of the plan. This is supported by Dablanc [6] who found that most regional governments in Germany and France appear to be less involved in the actual promotion of rail freight activities than they were a few years ago.

Moreover, modern intermodal terminals are among the most space-extensive consumers of land in metropolitan areas [46], which has consequences on the possibilities for capacity extension. KombiConsult [47] shows that rail terminal capacity in Europe will not be sufficient to fulfil the forecasted demand resulting in bottlenecks in the rail network, making capacity extensions necessary to maintain market shares. Yet, land availability in urban areas is limited and potential land use conflicts are high [45]. Furthermore, on existing railway networks freight traffic is the main source of noise, which threatens political and public support for increasing the share of rail traffic [48]. The infrastructure also causes separation effects in urban areas. Since PPH is concentrated around the intermodal terminals, it is consequently the areas adjacent to these terminals that are affected the most by both rail operations' and PPH's traffic impacts [46]. Due to their urban location the congestion, noise, accidents and air pollution impacts are much higher than for intercity traffic. As a consequence, new or expanded developments are viewed positively at the large scale, but are often seen negatively at the local level and as a result the planning process has typically been dominated by negative responses at the local authority level [43].

4.4. Integrated planning

To achieve a modal shift it is necessary for local authorities to develop local freight transport strategies that encompass road and rail freight, and which identify locations where rail freight will be generated [44]. This freight transport strategy should integrate relevant land-use planning and economic development strategies. Haywood [49] found firm evidence for the support of rail freight in local transport plans in cities in the UK; however, there is only little evidence of effective action for integration of the local road network with intermodal terminals. This is supported by Woodburn [43] who states that the main concern is the lack of any real strategic appraisal of the ways in which land-use planning should be utilised to support intermodal rail freight. Lindholm and Behrends [27] conclude that city authorities lack capacity and competence to manage and control freight transport in general and that a holistic understanding of the implications of freight transport in urban areas is missing. Local authorities perceive the economic interests on the one hand and environmental and social interests on the other hand as tradeoffs and there is no evidence for a long-term strategy to balance these interests.

4.5. Implications for intermodal transport efficiency and urban sustainable development

The challenge for intermodal transport arising from the urban context is that an increasing demand on both transport quality and volumes faces efficiency problems and capacity constraints. The usual approach to cope with these challenges is to extend the capacity of nodes and links. In the long-term this

approach is neither feasible in urban areas nor is it a promising solution for a significant modal shift since the limited geographical coverage excludes a substantial share of the transport market. Hence, in the current IRRT production paradigm based on a limited number of high-volume corridors and large-scale terminals, the urban context is a threat for the desired further growth of rail freight. Coping with these challenges requires an approach that integrates all relevant stakeholders including the actors providing transport services, actors demanding these transport services and public authorities that determine the operational conditions of urban freight and the urban spatial structure. In the following section possible examples for actions on a local level are discussed.

5. Local opportunities for modal shift and urban sustainability

In the previous sections a framework for sustainable urban freight transport was developed and applied on IRRT. Now, this section aims to conceptualise the field in order to identify potential actions on a local level, which can improve the competitiveness of rail freight and reduce its related impacts on the urban transport system. Actions in three areas are emphasised in this respect: 1) Urban cooperation of shippers/receivers, 2) urban cooperation of transport operators, and 3) rail-adapted land-use and transportation planning.

5.1. Urban cooperation of shippers/receivers can increase the market potential of rail freight

The major problem of rail freight is its limited geographical coverage. The highly concentrated rail network with a limited number of high-volume corridors provides access to rail only to city-regions and industrial sites with large transport volumes. Intermodal rail freight lines link larger cities with one another, but do not link to the small towns situated along the line. Smaller economic regions where transport demand is comparably small and dispersed are usually not served by rail and have road as the only available transport mode. These differential spatial effects are largely due to unequal investment in modal capacity, routes and terminals and the relative disparities have widened between core and peripheral areas [50]. A balanced regional development requires more homogenously distributed accessibility for which decentralised networks are necessary [25].

A network decentralisation requires rail networks with intermediate nodes for consolidation. Usually, consolidation terminals involve high fixed costs and require certain transhipments volumes to ensure an economic operation. The volumes required for an economic operation of a terminal in peripheral regions can be achieved by consolidation of the shippers' goods flows in the region [26]. Dekker, van Asperen & Ochtman [51] argue that this cooperation also yields benefits for the shippers. The intermodal terminal is the place where consolidation of freight flows from different shippers occurs. Some of the shippers' stock can be positioned at the terminal close to the customer in anticipation of demand, which can yield lower inventory costs as well as a lower customer lead-time.

Furthermore, the freight volumes suitable for rail can drastically be increased by more relaxed pick-up and delivery times [52]. This reduced service quality eventually worsens the companies' position in the market, where short lead times and delivery precision are required to remain competitive. However, the long-term trends towards increasing costs of fuel, taxes and road tolls combined with a shortage of drivers and vehicles indicate that the road freight sector faces huge challenges for keeping its high quality and economic performance in the future. Furthermore, final customers more and more demand sustainable products making companies pay attention to the environmental consequences of their businesses, including transport [36]. Hence, minimising the environmental impact has gained significant importance and there are doubts that technology can solve the environmental problems of road freight, since it is expected that a viable alternative to oil will take a long time to be both developed and implemented [35].

Therefore, relaxing time windows and consolidation of freight flows to strengthen the competitiveness of rail freight entails long-term benefits for the shippers, which require a viable alternative to road freight in the future.

In turn, higher rail freight volumes increase a city's attractiveness for rail operators, which can benefit from additional business opportunities. Moreover, new rail freight services to the region that hosts the terminal are beneficial for the companies located in the region as well as for the economic situation of the region as a whole. A larger transport flow through a region can lower the cost of transports via the region due to density economies, which in turn can attract a larger number of firms to the region [53].

5.2. Urban cooperation of transport operators can increase the efficiency of pre- and post-haulage

One reason for high PPH costs is the fragmented operations with various PPH companies serving each terminal. Distribution and pick-up trips to and from shippers are not coordinated, resulting in many additional empty trips. Morlok et al. [41] how that spatial market division or sharing transport equipment can avoid empty driving, and Walker [54] states that an increase in transport volumes allows a more efficient use of drivers. Both effects can result in a higher resource efficiency leading to lower PPH costs. Not only can this improve the service in the market, but the transport distance at which intermodal transport can compete with road freight could also decrease substantially.

5.3. Rail freight adapted land-use and transport planning can increase the efficiency of pre- and posthaulage and reduce its unsustainable impacts

As local authorities are responsible for land use and transport planning, they plan the location of sites for rail and roads as well as terminals and economic facilities, establish traffic regulations such as access restrictions, facilitate investment in infrastructure, etc. These decisions at the local level highly influence the operation conditions of PPH and terminals. When it comes to the location of terminals in urban areas the terminal's spatial quality in the inter-regional rail network needs to be considered. While the terminals that handle true origin and destination traffic (i.e., freight flows that start and end in the city) should be located close to the shippers in the urban area, the location of terminals handling through traffic (i.e., consolidation of freight flows of shippers from other regions within the inter-regional transport network) is less critical and should therefore be positioned far away from sensitive areas.

Generally, by a geographical separation of logistics and residential land-use a mixing of freight and passenger traffic can be avoided, making access to the terminals easier and standstill periods in urban traffic shorter. Furthermore, noise, congestion and air pollution impacts are minimised since they avoid sensitive urban areas. In order to further reduce the urban emissions of PPH, it has to be accompanied by vehicles using alternative fuels and propulsion systems as investigated by Macharis, van Mierlo, & van den Bossche [55]. PPH is well suited for employment of these special vehicles. Since these systems usually have a limited driving range, they are currently preferably tested or employed by a public bus fleet that operates in a limited region and therefore requires no widespread coverage of refuelling and maintenance infrastructure. The same accounts for the lorries serving an intermodal terminal since the distances driven from that terminal are comparatively short. Sharing the refuelling and maintenance infrastructure with the public bus fleet facilitates lower costs through economies of scale and a reduction of risk for PPH operators since they do not need to make own investments.

Still, most city governments view truck traffic as a disturbing factor and consider using regulations on urban roads for banning or at least strictly regulating the movement of trucks [8]. On the other hand, road regulations can also be a measure for increasing the efficiency of truck movements. A relaxation of the rules in force on weights and dimensions of heavy vehicles can lead to a reduction in vehicle operating

costs and reduced lorry traffic which helps to alleviate environmental impacts and congestion. Bergvist & Behrends [56] look into the effects of a flexible legal framework with exceptions for longer vehicles in PPH and conclude that the cost efficiency of the intermodal chain could be improved. However, the case for increasing the maximum length and weight of trucks is a very controversial issue, since they also negatively affect safety and have implications for road transport infrastructure in urban areas [57]. This underlines the importance of integrated transport and land-use planning which separates freight and passenger transport. In order to minimise the potential negative implications, restrictions on the local road network regarding speed, route and time of day, etc. can be applied by local authorities.

6. Conclusion

This paper has developed a framework for sustainable urban freight transport linking urban planning with the main concepts of logistics and transportation. The implications of the proposed framework for IRRT are twofold. First, in the current IRRT production paradigm the urban context is a threat for the desired further growth of rail freight, since an increasing demand on transport quality and volumes faces efficiency problems and capacity constraints. At the same time, shippers located in peripheral regions lack access to intermodal rail freight services. On the other hand, the urban context also offers opportunities, which can increase the market potential of rail freight, increase the efficiency of PPH and reduce the urban impacts of intermodal transport. Cooperation among actors and integrated land-use and transport planning can be significant in this respect. Local authorities can play a key role in enabling the cooperation among shippers and transport operators by involving all stakeholders in the strategic land-use and transport planning processes. This stakeholder participation can also function as a forum for raising awareness among stakeholders and citizens that they have a common interest in sustainable urban freight transport, which is a pre-requisite for successful cooperation.

The relationship between logistics and freight transport decisions has been the subject of various works [58, 59, 2] and all developed frameworks highlight that making freight transport sustainable requires close cooperation by actors vertically along the supply chain. Decisions made by local and regional authorities, however, are seldom included in these frameworks, although horizontal cooperation between private and public actors in regional logistics networks can contribute to competitiveness of firms and attractiveness of regions [26]. The framework developed in this paper links urban planning with the main concepts of logistics and transportation and in this way indicates the need of public-private cooperation on a local and regional level.

Since the research in this paper is mainly qualitative and conceptual, there is a need for future research, especially empirically driven, to specify the links in the framework further and to support the developed hypotheses.


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