In its ongoing attempt to manage predicted increases in freight transport, the European Commission is taking steps to encourage the use of intermodal systems, especially containers. Integration of the different modes within the transport chain will mean improved flexibility, quality, and cost effectiveness and will stimulate competition between transporters instead of between transport modes.
Road congestion is steadily increasing throughout the European Union and is currently estimated to cost around 2% of its GDP. A further estimated 2% is lost as a result of road accidents and road transport-related pollution and noise. The problem is aggravated by the fact that our roads are increasingly being used to the exclusion of other channels such as railways and inland waterways. Projections show that by 2005 road transport will account for 75% of all European inland freight carriage, with the quantity of goods transported by road expected to double by 2010 unless new arrangements are made.
The development of a seamless web of integrated transport chains, linking road, rail and waterways is a key objective of the EU's Common Transport Policy, as outlined in the 2001 White Paper "European transport policy for 2010: time to decide". The integration of truck, train, and ship transport, including on inland waterways, faces a range of obstacles as we move toward the optimum use of all existing infrastructures.
The strategic aim of INTEGRATION is to develop demonstrable optimised concepts and integrate new technologies to improve multimodal freight transport and test them in real demo sites, and to reinforce intermodal links with special emphasis on easing, improving and facilitating cargo flows between inland and sea (loading / unloading cargo operations). INTEGRATION aims at producing systems and services for moving freight from origin to destination by intermodal chain, were water transport is enhanced. INTEGRATION systems contribute to the competitiveness of the maritime transport through:
- Short sea shipping freight transport increase;
- Terminal/Ports operations volumes increase; and
- Enlargement of the maritime network.
Three testing sites were selected: a transhipment terminal (Gioia Tauro) and a RO-RO terminal (Genova) in the Mediterranean Sea, and a RO-RO terminal (Gothenburg) in the North sea. Two case studies were selected for the virtual validation of technologies for innovative solutions for the "Dry Port Concept" in Livorno and for a more efficient container transport from Piraeus to Valencia. Starting from the existing ships, (mainly for short sea shipping freight transport, RO-RO / RO-PAX ships are used), improved integrated ship-shore systems are validated and tested on the field. Based on the results of demo site tests, new ships for intermodal freight transport will be conceived and designed as part of an integrated ship-shore system.
INTEGRATION did not set out to invent completely new solutions, however. Instead, the partners carefully studied existing technologies and sought to adapt them or their application to improve the land-sea connection. The group decided that adapting established technologies would speed up their take-up by the industry. It also built on the results of another European project, IPSI, which had developed improved methods for automated cargo handling. The early stages of the project identified two key technologies in current use. First, most short-sea vessels are roll-on-roll-off (RO-RO) ships, loaded 'horizontally' by driving containers on to the ship. Second, large ports such as Hamburg and Rotterdam have automated guided vehicles (AGVs) that move containers from a port's marshalling area to the quay cranes that normally load the ships. The second major activity of INTEGRATION is the rational design of new ro-ros, optimised for short-sea shipping.
The designs and the results from the AGV pilots will be used in freight transfer simulations. Theoretical demonstrations will be the first step in convincing the shipping industry to invest in these new ships and loading technologies. Prototype ships should be ready by as early as 2005. The challenge is to offer intermodal and maritime operators a technology that will significantly boost their operating efficiencies and freight volumes. The project will demonstrate the potential of the technology, and the way it can improve performance through improved management of operations. If successful, it will give Europe’' shipyards and port equipment manufacturers a new lease of life.
- To reinforce intermodal links with special emphasis on easing, improving and facilitating cargo flows between inland and sea (loading / unloading cargo operations).
- To study existing technologies and sought to adapt them or their application to improve the land-sea connection
- To offer intermodal and maritime operators a technology that will significantly boost their operating efficiencies and freight volumes.
- To develop demonstrable optimised concepts and integrate new technologies to improve multimodal freight transport and test them in real demo sites
- To demonstrate the potential of the technology, and the way it can improve performance through improved management of operations