In recent years, intermodal transport has been assigned a high priority in the German transportation policy - and now more than ever. Potential economic and environmental benefits have been the decisive factors in the efforts to implement intermodal policy, and investments in intermodal terminals have been one of the means to reach the goals of this policy.
Intermodality is a question of flexibility: within the whole transport-chain from the producer to the consumer, flexibility in time, costs and mode of transport is needed. Most of the potential benefits lay in the organisation of transport for rail and waterways which is quicker and more reliable than road transport. The 'Flexible Transport Chains' research programme started in 1997 to demonstrate the flexibility of intermodal transport.
Decoupling the growth of transport from economic growth is an important objective in the fields of freight transport and logistics. Limiting the impact of rising freight volumes expected in connection with economic growth can be achieved by reducing/eradicating transportation bottlenecks and creating free capacities. 'The objective of the network is to transport higher volumes of freight while at the same time creating less traffic through increases in efficiency.' (Eckwertepapier zur Mobilitätsforschungspolitik', p. 19)
The aim of the 'Flexible Transport Chains' programme was to reduce road transport by 100-million truck km/year through the creation of a more efficient transport sector and through the use of intelligent transport systems and technologies.
This programme funded 16 large demonstration projects between 1997 and 2001. By the end of the programme, more than 143-million truck km/year were made redundant, were avoided or had been shifted from road to rail or waterway transport. In the years to come, the projects are expected to yield a reduction of some 190-million truck km. This illustrates the sustainable results of the successful projects. Measures taken to reduce truck km included improved co-operation between road, railway and inland water transport as well as the more efficient utilisation of transport equipment and rolling stock.
The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) supported the programme with EUR 8,6 million.
The funding rules described here refer to the 'Mobility and Transport' sector programme, which defines the procedures for all related sub-programmes.
Funding is provided for research and development as well as demonstration projects which aim to promote sustainable mobility and contribute to creating an efficient and safe transport system.
The most important ongoing funding activities include the lead projects for improving mobility in conurbations, which develop and demonstrate systems solutions for transport in big cities.
Furthermore funding is provided for project networks to increase the efficiency of freight traffic, to reduce environmental stress caused by traffic, particularly road traffic, and to increase road safety. As mobility and transport take place in a constantly changing social environment, relevant activities will include the interdisciplinary study of the social aspects of individual mobility.
All commercial and non-commercial institutions and individuals are eligible for funding. Depending upon the subject, these include in particular institutions of higher education, non-university research establishments and similar institutions, business enterprises, territorial authorities and associations. In some cases, calls for proposals are addressed to specific groups of potential applicants. The focus is on projects which involve co-operation by several partners who, in an interdisciplinary approach and on the basis of shared responsibility, develop highly innovative solutions for the above-mentioned funding activities and/or try to demonstrate their suitability for practical application and which, by involving or co-operating with science, industry and the planning sector, aim to ensure utilisation of the research results on the broadest possible scale.
(Projektträger Mobilität und Verkehr, Bauen und Wohnen des BMBF; PT MVBW)