The efficiency and quality of intermodal transport in Europe is currently hampered by strong competition from the road sector, the fragmented and inhomogeneous organisation of railway systems and the diversity of national and regional transport policy. In order to meet the quality requirements of end users, technical, economic and social constraints need to be tackled. Institutional, legislative and political pre-conditions are seen as the most critical factors, whereas the impact of new technologies for the integration of different transport modes and systems seems to be overrated.
IQ aimed to analyse the quality aspects influencing intermodal transport, focusing on improvements in interoperability, interconnectivity and accessibility of terminals. The project intended to deal with both the quality of terminals and the quality of networks for different countries and segments, at European and national levels.
The main objectives of IQ have been:
- to produce an intermodal transport quality index;
- to produce an interactive simulation tool;
- to support analytical results by performing demonstration case studies;
- to define and elaborate the different technological, spatial, economical and institutional aspects which interact in intermodal transport.
- defined a market segmentation into
- user types, such as shippers, forwarders, road hauliers, sea carriers, etc.,
- transport distance classes, such as short or long, domestic or international, European or intercontinental, and
- commodity types, such as hazardous, perishable, high or low value general cargo, etc.;
- defined a set of external quality indicators for end users and internal quality indicators, available only to transport operators for controlling intermediate steps in the process;
- set up an integrated assessment methodology building on the definition of validated performance indicators;
- assessed the quality of intermodal terminals and the quality of intermodal networks for the status quo and the year 2010 using the performance indicators;
- developed several simulation tools for intermodal transport services - DIGIT for the interactive integration of user requirements into the supply side, SIMIQ for the simulation of hub locations, and GIS-IQ for assigning transport flows to networks - based on extensive databases on 398 terminals and networks;
- introduced four demonstration cases on network concepts across Europe, aiming at a good balance between transport quality, flexibility and cost efficiency;
- defined three major intermodal scenarios (for northern Europe, southern Europe and short sea shipping in southern Europe) and derived a set of tailored policy packages targeting 7 market segments and 3 target markets (rail, road, fully combined).
The IQ project has established a comprehensive assessment approach to designing, developing and improving intermodal transport and associated networks. Transport policy on a European level needs to build on best practice in national policies, which has now been compiled as part of a systematic survey of (intermodal) transport policies in 15 EU countries. Individual reports from the project provide insights into terminal concepts, rail operating systems and persisting rail capacity problems. All these aspects require further action in order to foster the prospects of European-scale intermodal transport.