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Computer-Controlled Freight Platforms for a Time-tabled Rail Transport System

European Union
Complete with results
Project Acronym
STRIA Roadmaps
Network and traffic management systems (NTM)
Transport mode
Multimodal icon
Transport policies
Societal/Economic issues
Transport sectors
Freight transport


Background & Policy context

The overall efficiency of intermodal transport is closely related to the productivity of intermodal terminals. However, the existing intermodal infrastructures and management tools cannot cope with the expected growth in freight transport in the short and medium term. One way to cope with the increasing demand and make the intermodal option a competitive alternative to road transport, is to implement new cost-effective ways of managing freight traffic flows based on the enhancement of terminal management and the integration of the existing telematics systems.


PLATFORM aimed to implement a simulation environment for assessing the impacts of different technologies and management policies designed to enhance the performance of freight intermodal terminals for rail/road transfer.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
European Commission; Directorate-General for Energy and Transport (DG TREN; formerly DG VII)
Type of funding
Public (EU)


A preliminary analysis of user requirements highlighted the following as main features of computer-controlled freight terminals:

  • computer-based booking and dispatch systems for the reservation of transport capacity and for the allocation of loading time and position;
  • fast loading/unloading devices;
  • intelligent gate procedures and automated guidance of trucks to reserved loading places;
  • electronic devices to automatically locate and register the ITU (intermodal transport unit) position in the yard;
  • computer-aided yard allocation policies.

The adoption of computer-aided management and new transhipment technologies have been simulated in the test site of the CEMAT terminal of Verona, 'Quadrante Europa'.


At present, forwarders and terminal operators are not co-ordinated and ITU trips are generally planned only manually. Computer-aided management would lead, thanks to automation, to reduced service times in various procedures, such as the planning of ITU trips, the positioning of ITUs on the yard, and road and rail gate management. New transhipment technologies for cranes and lifters would allow the maximum terminal capacity to be reached.


The project has demonstrated that the adoption of faster transhipment devices without the support of computer-aided management does not produce significant changes in the performance of the terminal. Moreover, the adoption of computer-aided management systems is cost-effective for every actor in the chain. The only foreseen limitation to the effectiveness of such a policy, albeit not negligible, is the necessity of a co-ordinated adoption of the necessary devices and systems.

Policy implications

PLATFORM has demonstrated the potential for adopting new telematics technologies to realise fully integrated computer-controlled freight platforms.


The tools developed can be used as off-line instruments by low- and middle-level management to analyse and evaluate different policies. The entire PLATFORM environment can help high-level management and the decision-makers of the intermodal chain to evaluate high-level policies aimed at improving intermodal transport.


In the near future, it will be possible to develop terminal-oriented on-line tools able to select in every situation the optimal management policy, to drive the operations and to communicate with the trucks arriving to pick up or deliver ITUs.


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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