The integration of interoperable intermodal horizontal transhipment techniques in intermodal transport operators, InHoTra, is a project part-funded by the DG for Energy and Transport of the European Commission under its GROWTH Programme part of FP5, Sub-programme Area: Modal and intermodal transport management systems.
The project started in 2001 and concluded in 2004. InHoTra has been conceived to meet the technological challenges set by the sustainable mobility and intermodality theme of the Fifth Framework Transport Research Programme. With the aim of increasing the competitiveness of intermodal transport against ever rising volumes in road freight traffic, providing added benefits of greater environmental and social protection and offering initial step towards the goal of sustainable mobility.
InHoTra aims to improve intermodal freight transport reliability and efficiency taking into account its contribution to the overall freight transport system integration. Therefore the integration horizontal transhipment techniques in current or future intermodal operations is the main objective indicated by the research work programme.
InHoTra will validate innovative horizontal transhipment technologies, their interoperability and the possibilities to integrate them into current intermodal transport operations, in order to make intermodal transport more effective, more competitive and to decrease the economic break-even distance of intermodal transport. This shall enable intermodal transport to offer a more flexible network service on low-cost basis with a wider choice of technologies available.
Therefore, this project is intended to assemble the already existing systems in order to provide recommendations and guidelines for future development and to meet fully the requirements of the transport operators. This project has the aim of building the basis for a future integration of such systems in intermodal transport chains from door to door. The project aims at promoting specific transfer technologies in intermodal transport.
By these improved systems, the transfer of loading units between different modes shall be executed with less costs and improved reliability. Furthermore, new operational approaches in road-rail intermodal transport are introduced by such horizontal transfer technologies, mainly the possibility to organise economic road-rail transport on shorter distances. Finally, the integration of such systems in existing operational systems shall be examined. The influence of these technologies on the design of current intermodal transport equipment and loading units will be furthermore evaluated.
Additional recommendations will be given on how intermodal policy can support such systems.
The structure of InHoTra includes a feasibility study, followed by a demonstration of possible solutions and a validation of the different technical approaches with concrete recommendations. InHoTra will provide additional recommendations for a future implementation policy on intermodal terminals, freight sites and methods to improve market penetration for all the actors involved in Intermodal Transport. The aim being to create an intermodal door-to-door chain including horizontal transhipment techniques perfectly integrated and interoperable with the existing vertical techniques using containers, swap bodies and semi trailers. These actions will be carried out at European Union level in order to avoid incompatible solutions within the Member States and to assure effective exploitation plans.
The project consists of 5 work packages:
- WP 1 - General assessment of horizontal transhipment techniques. The objective of this WP is to clarify the position of InHoTra in respect of the following three questions:
- Why is it necessary to carry out a study of horizontal transfer in the multimodal sector?
- What potential market areas do exist for horizontal transhipment?
- What are the conditions from the market side to accept horizontal transhipment as an innovative transhipment technology?
The methodology is based on a systemic approach where the 'Transport', taken in a widest sense, is a system. This system is a set of elements in interrelations such as if one of them weakens, it is the whole set which weakens. The transport system is organised under three sub-systems: the actors (society); the techniques; and the territory (geographical or geopolitical).
- WP 2 - Improved inventory of operational horizontal transhipment systems existing in Europe. The scope of WP2 is, based on existing information from former projects, on existing publications and on own investigations, to create an inventory of the already existing horizontal transfer systems. This will include a survey of more than 60 systems invented within the last 25 years. The result clearly shows that on a longer period no more than 20% of all invented systems are in service today.
- WP 3 - Identification of the economic and technical requirements of different operational systems. The objective of this WP is to define the technical and operational requirements of horizontal t
The structure of INHOTRA has examined a range of technologies that have been developed as means of supporting the general objective of enhancing the attractiveness of inter-modal cargo. The project has reviewed these and arrived at conclusions on the validity of these existing initiatives. In addition a survey on horizontal transhipment technologies developed in the recent years together with a report on their commercial aspects (as far as operation had been introduced) has been conducted. From the original consortium three demonstration concepts have been developed into operating formats. A validation of these in relation to operational and commercial criteria is in active preparation.
Key results for each theme :
- Examination of a range of technologies that have been developed as means of supporting the general objective of enhancing the attractiveness of inter-modal cargo
- Conclusions on the validity of these existing initiatives
- Creation of a systematic approach to the evaluation of horizontal transfer systems in intermodal transport, their technical aspects and their commercial background; this evaluation scheme is similarly applied to the overview on historically realised solutions and for the equipment to be developed in the course of the project.
Information and awareness
- Three demonstration concepts have been developed into operating formats. A validation of these in relation to operational and commercial criteria has been prepared.
- Technical and commercial evaluation of the equipment realised within the project, together with an analysis of target markets and comparison with competing techniques.
Based on this evaluation, recommendations towards standardisation, harmonisation of European legislation and technical rules and other measures were established to create an environment for better use of horizontal transhipment in Europe.
The InHoTra project is conceived as a parallel and co-ordinated research activity on the one side, and a set of technical developments and related test operations ('demonstrators') on the other side.
The research side covered mainly the following items:
- Creation of an overview on horizontal transfer system developed in Europe so far including a systematic evaluation of their specific technical details and their commercial life (if any);
- Creation of a systematic approach to the evaluation of horizontal transfer systems in intermodal transport, their technical aspects and their commercial background; this evaluation scheme is similarly applied to the overview on historically realised solutions and for the equipment to be developed in the course of the project;
- Technical and commercial evaluation of the equipment realised within the project, together with an analysis of target markets and comparison with competing techniques;
- Based on this evaluation, recommendations towards standardisation, harmonisation of European legislation and technical rules and other measures were established to create an environment for better use of horizontal transhipment in Europe.
In addition, a specific part of the study must cover the problems concerning current transport containers and their possible horizontal transfer, and the problems and experience gained with the horizontal transfer of European semi-trailers between road and rail.