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Interoperable Modular Pilot Plants Underlying the Logistic Systems in Europe

European Union
Complete with results
Project Acronym
STRIA Roadmaps
Network and traffic management systems (NTM)
Transport mode
Multimodal icon
Transport policies
Societal/Economic issues
Transport sectors
Freight transport


Background & Policy context

There is a requirement to increase the competitiveness of intermodal transport in order to stem the rising trend of road freight traffic, thus providing environmental and social benefits. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = 'urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office' />


The project's key objective is to determine, introduce and recommend focused technical and logistics developments which will result in increased economic, technical and management efficiency of intermodal transport to deliver trans European freight at lower cost, within a quality framework, while meeting the customers' needs. IMPULSE focuses on rail aspects in connection with the other modes. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = 'urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office' />


The four main activities in the project are:

  • analysis of the requirements for integrated terminals and rolling stock in terms of prime elements (market forces, Trans European Network effects, transport modes, intermodal transport units and trunk haul production forms) measured against criteria such as cost-effectiveness, interoperability, modularity, availability and reliability;

  • to modify and harmonise existing advanced intermodal terminal technology in use at test sites to fit the results of the initial analysis and meet the key objectives;
  • to test these installations and demonstrate their impact on socio-economic parameters, such as network operation, intermodal break-even distance, value added services, regional transport flows and human and environmental factors;
  • recommendations for future implementation policy on intermodal terminals and measures to improve market penetration. The project involves six demonstration/testing sites for new transfer technologies, rolling stock and full scale terminal operations.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
European Commission; Directorate-General for Energy and Transport (DG TREN; formerly DG VII)
Type of funding
Public (EU)



  • analysed the key infrastructure requirements for integrated terminals, and the current rolling stock used by major European railways;
  • analysed the potential short to medium distance freight market which can be attracted from current road flows;
  • analysed operational procedures for the rail part of intermodal transport chains and related transhipment systems, such as portal cranes;
  • promoted optimised terminal layouts, improved operational procedures, and the use of advanced terminal management systems;
  • performed a survey of current GPS-based identification, location and positioning systems and systems already in development;
  • defined and tested new features of automated freight handling by performing practical tests at intermodal terminals in Padova (Italy), Noisy-le-Sec (France), and at the Krupp Fast Handling System in Duisburg-Rheinhausen (Germany);
  • defined, designed and constructed prototypes of new wagons suited for automated operation, and in particular the efficient handling of Intermodal Transport Units, which have been tested in loading/unloading campaigns at intermodal terminals;
  • assessed working conditions and safety regulations at automated intermodal terminals;
  • analysed technical and organisational aspects of intermodal terminals and their impact on intermodal transport chains;
  • developed simulation models for full scale scenarios, based on the field trials, namely:
    • the so-called 'Micro Model' consisting of an expert system and a simulation module allowing the evaluation of different terminal designs and the validation of operational efficiency and quality,
    • a 'Macro Model' for analysis of multimodal network efficiency and attractiveness on a pan-European level;
  • formulated recommendations on the functional layout of future intermodal freight terminals, recommendations for the optimised design and operation of rolling stock, and recommendations for procedures addressing different shipment distances.

Policy implications

Faster handling and automated operation are key features to foster

additional volume for rail-based intermodal freight transport over medium

and short distances. In order to compete with road transport, the price

and quality of rail services need to be competitive. On dedicated backbone

routes through Europe, innovative shuttle trains, running twice a night,

have already proven the potential for significant cuts in costs; a finding

that should be underpinned by additional real world testing. Furthermore,

it is suggested that international standardisation bodies lead the needed

activities, and allow for more small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to

participate in future rail transport.


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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