Skip to main content
European Commission logo

Feeder systems in combined transport (SVI1999/329)

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


Background & Policy context

Great hope has been placed in combined freight transport (CFT) by rail/road for some time now, but a wide breakthrough still has yet to be achieved. It is believed that there is considerable potential for rationalisation, particularly in the area of road-based pre-haulage and end-haulage services, and that making use of this potential could well improve CFT's share of the market. For this reason an understanding of the problems involved in pre-haulage and end-haulage services, of appropriate improvement measures, and of possible ways for implementing these measures, are all of central importance to the further development of combined freight transport.


The investigation is intended to fulfil the following aims:

  • Analysis of the characteristics of CFT pre-haulage and end-haulage and of their significance in the overall transport chain (transport chains and processes in CFT, actors and their roles). 
  • Analysis of impediments in pre-haulage and end-haulage services in combined freight transport and of their causes (the analysis to include consideration of their significance for the whole transport chain). 
  • Presentation of improvement measures together with an estimation of their impact (catalogue of measures, potential for rationalisation, effects). 
  • Formulation of recommendations for the implementation of measures and suggestions of ways to close any remaining gaps in research.

The methodology used in the investigation is based on analyses of literature, interviews with actors in the transport sector, and qualitative and quantitative analyses of effects. A CFT data set was set up for the year 2002 specifically to provide a basis for the quantitative analysis of effects.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Private foundation
Institution Name
Association of Transportation Engineers
Type of funding
Public (national/regional/local)


Main problems related to pre-haulage and end-haulage services in CFT

  • In road-based pre-haulage and end-haulage services, operational and organisational problems play a more dominant role than the technical, infrastructural and legal/institutional problems. 
  • The main operational problems are the large number of different types of containers, vehicle usability, the difficulty of pairing up flows / trips (lack of return freight), excessive waiting and standing times at the terminal (including demand peaks in closing for cargo and provisioning times), train delays, time-windows for delivery and collection at the shippers which are too small, and a defective disposition / optimisation of the transfer sequence at the terminal.
  • The main organisational problems are the complicated organisation / with too many participants, a lack of information concerning changes from normal operation and insufficient communication between the actors.
  • The main technical / infrastructural problems are insufficient standardisation in CFT systems (large number of different types of systems) and inadequate handling capacities.
  • The main legal / institutional problems are the monopoly positions held by the pre-haulage and end-haulage carriers, the unclear division of responsibility / liability over the whole transport chain and the lack of harmonisation in Europe in regulations concerning pre-haulage and end-haulage services.
  • A further problem is presented by the ancillary services at terminals (e.g. storage, repair etc.). These services are growing in significance but are often still not available.


Improvement measures and potential effects 

During the research work, 24 measures which relate to different points in the transport chain were subjected to both a broad and a detailed evaluation. Aspects covered by the evaluation included the relocation effect, the effects on costs over the whole transport chain, and the ecological and economic effects. An assessment was also made of the practicability of the measures and the financial resources which they would require.

The investigation shows that individual measures alone only lead to selective improvements which have a limited effectiveness, and that a package of measures is needed. Another important finding was that measures at the terminal / road interface and over the whole transport chain could particularly improve the efficiency of road-base


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


Contribute! Submit your project

Do you wish to submit a project or a programme? Head over to the Contribute page, login and follow the process!