The city-network EXPO-region is a board made up of 7 cities in the Hannover region, which aims to find joint, sustainable and environmentally acceptable solutions to urban problems. One of the key issues for the area is the impact of freight transport. Within the EXPO-region, this has reached alarming proportions, as the region is crossed by many major European traffic corridors which generate problems of transit traffic as well as origin and destination traffic. By the year 2010, it is estimated that road goods traffic could increase by as much as 61%. This not only creates major problems for supply transport within the inner city areas but causes a serious environmental impact with high noise and pollutant emissions, affecting the quality of life in the region. Any effective strategy for organizing freight transport in a more rational way, will depend on the development of an integrated regional strategy, as goods transport often crosses the borders of municipalities and regions. The current project therefore proposes to promote such “integrated aspects of spatial planning” in order to actively reduce the environmental impact of goods transport in the area. The project would be jointly developed between the city network partners: (7 cities in the Hanover area + 1 board), Volkswagen AG (low emission vehicles), IVE (railway concept), IVU (telematics) and local companies / boards.
The project aimed to develop a joint environmentally-friendly strategy for regional freight transport which would reduce air and noise pollution throughout the economic area encompassed by the city network EXPO region. This strategy would aim to optimize long distance transport with its destination in the Expo region and to shift over to increased rail transport by integrating freight sub-centres and new technologies to provide technical and organizational solutions. Key steps include: an analysis of legislative underlying conditions, harmonisation of data bases, design of fields of action at regional level ( extending the freight village concept to sub centers, ecologically friendly vehicle technology, telematics and cooperative approaches). The solutions developed would be evaluated with regard to their environmental, economic and traffic impact, incorporating and testing new evaluation methods. The final product would integrate these solutions in a regional concept. The expected outcome was the achievement of an integrated regional approach to the problem of freight traffic, which could lead to significant reduction in environmentally damaging noise and emissions, when implemented. The project expected to generalize the results through transferable guidelines, which would be of use for other European regions.
The project achieved its goal of developing an integrated regional freight transport concept aiming at reducing noise and polluting emissions. This was achieved through developing a cooperative approach and guidelines involving a large number of local authorities and institutions and companies in a complete economic region. This should aid the sustainability of the approach. However the environmental benefits will only be seen once implemented, which will depend on the economic viability of its application and the reactions of key stakeholders.
The project first established the necessary infrastructure. This involved the harmonization of existing legal frameworks and the creation of a standardized data base to handle road, rail and inland navigation traffic in the EXP0-region. The concept was then developed on three levels:
- An overall regional approach, where transport chains were analysed in order to optimize transport and shift goods onto the rail. This included the idea of a direct rail link for goods transport between cities in the region linked to the freight village Lehrte, backed by telematic solutions and low-emission vehicles.
- The second level focused on local problems in goods transport and proposed environmentally-friendly alternatives (city logistic, loading area management, truck road networks, access regulations in inner cities) which were then integrated into the regional approach.
- The final area was the transfer of results, in which the project disseminated the findings and invited responses from three European regions (France, Denmark and Poland). This area was less fully developed within the timeframe of the project.
A series of conclusions were drawn as to the potential environmental benefits of specific measures and tools:
- Low-emission vehicles could lead to a 5% reduction in emissions,
- Telematic solutions could reduce CO2 emissions by up to 14.000 tons
- Cooperative tools such as fleet management systems, inter-company disposition and tour/route planning systems could double the emission reduction.
- Local measures could achieve a reduction of noise by 23% during the day, 14% at night and a reduction by 20% of CO2 emissions.
Overall, it was confirmed that the approach could deliver an 8% CO2 and 10% noise reduction throughout the region through its reorganization of freight transport.
In terms of transfer potential - the proposals of environmentally-friendly technologies as well as the concept and approach could be reproduced in other European regions, although more impact would be made with detailed implementation and testing. This process has been aided by dissemination through the web site and through a useful project handbook.