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Design Guidelines for Road and Rail Freight Terminals (VSS1998/189)

Switzerland Flag
Complete with results
Geo-spatial type
Infrastructure Node
Project website
STRIA Roadmaps
Network and traffic management systems (NTM)
Transport mode
Multimodal icon
Transport sectors
Freight transport


Background & Policy context

The currently available terminal infrastructure in Switzerland can handle more amounts only to a limited extent and the existing systems can usually not efficient operation to. Particularly lacking cost concepts and systems for terminals with small and medium throughput volumes. Efficient terminal systems are important in order to improve the competitiveness of combined transport in internal traffic and the import / export traffic.


The research aims to provide the basis for a standard for geometric dimensioning of intermodal systems, with the aim to plan operationally efficient and economical terminals and to create in order to promote the transfer of freight from road to the combined transport.


During the project existing standards (notably Austria, Denmark) are evaluated, then interviews are conducted with terminal operators and there are pointed out the technical developments in the KLV.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
Swiss Government: State Secretariat for Education and Research
Type of funding
Public (national/regional/local)


The following conclusions we can find in the project final report as regards to design alternatives and dimensions for CFT terminals:

  • The location of a terminal plays a central role in its economic viability, as does its layout. A set of 13 macro-criteria and 21 micro-criteria were developed for location planning and evaluation. Taken together these cover all the important requirements for the location of terminals.
  • The following are important aspects in the design of terminals: transport concepts, volumes, technology, framework conditions and additional services. The central requirements for the design of terminals can be presented and developed in terms of processes. The essential elements of the facility can also be derived from the processes.
  • The most important features for the terminal design are: split between rail-rail and rail-road transhipment, types of containers transferred, railway operations, the transhipment procedure, the freight transfer technology, and longer-term container storage as additional to buffer storage. Six different possible designs have been prepared as examples; these take into account the above features and the effect of new technologies. Important aspects are an efficient development of the terminal processes and a high degree of flexibility in the facility to allow for possible future developments.
  • The basic principles and possible designs are presented for each of the different parts of the facility (railway tracks, road access, transhipment and storage areas, the gate area, terminal equipment etc.) The planning and design of the rail and road facilities is already largely covered by existing regulations (the standard documents on railway technology) and standards (VSS). However the basic principles and requirements for the terminal-specific aspects have to be developed and then integrated into a standard. These terminal-specific aspects include e.g.: the dimensions of traffic lanes and loading lanes, the distances between the centrelines of tracks, crane facilities and loading roads, parking spaces, the design of the gate area, safety distances, environmental aspects etc.

Other results

In a comprehensive analysis were actual state, highlighted developments and major problems of today's intermodal terminals and the significant influence factors and derived the implications for the design of terminals. The main work from home and abroad were included in the study.

The essential elements of a terminal were systematically developed and it gave off-shaping and sizing instructions. Here, a terminal layout development proves due to a specially developed terminal typing. The main factors and requirements on the design of terminals were derived.

Standardisation efforts and the standardisation status were clean analysed and due to the conditions of the Swiss standardisation needs.

The results form an important basis for the planning and standardisation of the design of terminals for combined transport. Remaining or new research gaps have been identified.


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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