The objectives of this project were to find ways to enhance the growth of intermodal barge and rail transport. Both combinations have a particular market structure and operations, but it is important to analyse them together in order to take care of potential competition distortions. This also allowed to integrate the policies for intermodal transport on a federal and regional level in a better way. Next to the stimulation of the intermodal transport growth it is also important to predict its limits.
In order to simulate the impact of new terminals on the modal split, a combination of two models were used: The network model of FUCaM and the LAMBIT model of VUB. The first model identified an optimal location, while the second model analysed the impact of the locations on the market shares of the current and potential terminals. The combination of the models creates a decision support system that allows to simulate and predict potential problems in the freight infrastructure network.
What we can be concluded from the applications analysed so far, is first that the terminal landscape in Belgium is already quite dense and that it is difficult to find new interesting locations without disturbing the existing ones and with enough potential traffic. The current topology of existing terminals seems to be close to the optimal one. There may be some place for one, or maximum two, additional locations.
Second, subsidies can indeed help to increase the market share of intermodal transport. The current policy can significantly reduce the transhipment costs for the user, making intermodal transport much more attractive.
However, a coordinated policy, taking into account the locations of the intermodal terminals should be created. Also a coordinated policy in terms of spatial planning should be set up so that the location is being optimised from a broader perspective and not just decided on a local level.