The trends of growing long-distance traffic by road and air and stagnating rail and local public transport lead to an unsustainable imbalance. In the focus on the combined use of various transport modes for long distance and cross border travel, improved intermodal passenger transport is one key to a more efficient and integrated transport system to make travelling easier while, at the same time, minimising environmental impact. The co-modality approach for the freight sector, advocated by the EC in its mid-term review of the 2001 White Paper, is applicable also in the passenger sector and aims at the potential of complementarities between individual and collective modes.
The current status in Europe is heterogeneous; to travel across Europe on a single ticket provided with door-to-door information is a splendid vision, but in reality is often very difficult. One major challenge that must be met, if we are to achieve this vision, is to align cooperation with competition.
The predecessor study 'Towards Passenger Intermodality in the EU' (commissioned by DGTREN, finalised in 2004) proposed among others things the creation of a Forum to bring together the relevant stakeholders to overcome market and policy fragmentation.
The LINK project pursued the creation of a European Forum on Intermodal Passenger Travel in order to enhance the combined use of different transport modes, with focus on long distance and cross-border travelling.
The main task of this Forum was to provide and run a platform for the exchange, knowledge transfer and promotion of intermodal solutions. The LINK project aimed at becoming a communication node between and network of authorities, associations, operators and user groups at different levels (EU, nationwide, transregional). Its impact on the European transport sector depended on its ability to tie in important stakeholders and experts; and also to link to other support actions.
Another task was to outline a strategy for policy support to develop the LINK Forum into a self-sustaining organisation in the long term that will make intermodality an important topic on the political agenda as well as reality for passengers.
A first task for the Forum was consultations amongst stakeholders and experts in the field of intermodality, concerning their interests and opinions, main implementation problems and best practices.
The core of the Forum activities laid in network activities including conferences, workshops and five working groups regarding the key issues:
- door-to-door information and ticketing;
- networks interchanges;
- integration of long distance transport 'last mile';
- planning implementation;
- context conditions.
The selection of well balanced workings groups as regards transport modes, regions and types of stakeholders was supported by the results of the stakeholder consultation. The working groups brought together different kinds of relevant stakeholders (administrations, politicians, operators, researchers, users groups and the industry) in a transnational context in order to develop practical strategies for rolling out high quality passenger intermodality.
A policy advisory board of high-level representatives fostered the political marketing of the project's essentials.
A Knowledge and Promotion Centre structured and monitored research as a key for better understanding as well as dissemination, including a best practice database and a virtual library (on the project's website). In the case of LINK, dissemination was not only an added feature to the project but the essential part.
The parallel project KITE (Knowledge base for Intermodal passenger Travel in Europe) filled existing gaps in research with latest and Europe-wide findings which could be transferred by LINK.
LINK aimed at involving many actors from various sectors which are relevant to enhance intermodality in the passenger sector. LINK has created a large community of stakeholders (finally, the contact database includes around 1 300 entries). Dissemination of knowledge and good practice, participation in working groups and conferences as well as consultation processes were the main activities involving experts with different scientific disciplines and institutional backgrounds such as public authorities, operators, operators groups, usergroups, academia, politics, business and industry.
It lasted three years but the intention was to sustain this platform after the funding period. Within the project feasible ideas have been sketched in how to develop it into a forum in the more precise sense of a formalised stakeholder membership with its own organisation and financing model.
LINK is considered to be a good idea worth continuing, said the vast majority of respondents who answered a questionnaire concerning the 'life after' of the project.
The future work should have a primary focus on:
- Workshops, conferences and networking;
- Best practice documentation;
- EU policy position papers and policy 'lobbying';
- Developing pilot projects.
Due to LINK focus on long distance passenger intermodality, mainly on the European level, there is a lack of a direct advocate amongst single mode operator groups or single governments and authorities. There are some funding opportunities which may allow pursuit of some parts of the LINK agenda.
19 LINK recommendations were generated by 5 LINK working groups (each with a special thematic area) more than 100 intermodality experts were actively involved in this. The recommendations present a rich pool of often genuine and concrete ideas on what should be done by regulators and facilitators (mainly the European Commission and national governments) to enhance passenger intermodality in Europe. The recommendations are not fully comprehensive, but cover many key challenges. They include policy and funding ideas for the EU, international standardisation themes and ideas for intermodal service, all of which can be taken up and developed further and needed to be promoted by platforms, networks and interest groups. All key results are available in the paper 'Recommendations and Strategies for Passenger Intermodality in Europe'.
The objective of the research part of the project was to identify research res
The technical implications of LINK are indirect since it was a policy-oriented project.
Example: A main intention of LINK was to create a European door-to-door intermodal information service for long distance intermodal passenger travel. Reality is that there are a number of systems on national, regional and local level, but only few are transnational. To achieve the vision, LINK developed policy recommendations which should achieve at the end the technical system or systems with suitable interfaces.
LINK aimed at influencing policy-making concerning (passenger) transport and decision-making of transport professionals in favour of intermodality. For this overall purpose a number of detailed policy recommendations were developed as well as information about according research results and implementation (good practice) projects have been provided. Many workshops and conferences both on European and national level supported the exchange and networking between numerous experts of various background.
LINK contributed to the consultation concerning the Commission's Communication 'A sustainable future for transport' (COM 2009 279/4).