Freight traffic in Europe continues to grow, especially in the road sector. This contributes to congestion and pollution problems, particularly in urban areas. Therefore, there is growing interest in 'city logistics', which describes the use of innovative concepts for the efficient distribution of goods. These concepts include information and control systems, transhipment and load consolidation areas, tracking and tracing systems, and the use of traffic management measures to regulate and assist the movement of delivery vehicles. Benefits can include the switching of long-distance freight from road to rail and a reduction in delivery trips.
The project objectives were to assess the feasibility of the range of generic concepts for city logistics, and to recommend actions for their implementation.
Concepts for city logistics were studied in abstract and with reference to approaches being considered in eight cities (Seville and Cordoba, Spain; Norwich, UK; Vienna, Wiener Neustadt and Linz, Austria; Regensburg and Halle, Germany). Estimates of utility value showed that integrated strategies combining infrastructure, information technologies and the provision of door-to-door freight services are the most effective in meeting stakeholder objectives. In Vienna, the introduction of a city freight terminal was estimated to offer a cost saving of 10% to freight service providers.
Two concepts were developed in greater detail - load zone management and electronic logistic management.
Load zone management is a system for automatic reservation of space in a city centre zone for loading and unloading lorries, supported by stricter enforcement of regulations to prevent illegal parking by private cars in that zone. It aims to reduce traffic jams due to parked cars and lorries blocking the street. A system was designed based on Internet access, making it available to a wide range of users without them needing special software. Messages would be transferred from the central reservations system to a display panel at the loading zone via the mobile phone network.
A logistic management system provides a basic structure for electronic data processing from source to destination along a logistic chain, to facilitate integrated planning, monitoring and control of the movement of goods. This can support the consolidation of goods into fewer vehicles. A prototype system was developed and tailored to the needs of a logistic service provider. The system was shown to manage the required tasks with full functionality.
LEAN concluded that public administrations need to give active support to promoting the co-operation between market actors that is essential in establishing city logistic solutions and providing multi-modal hubs for freight transfer. The setting-up of regular stakeholder meetings is one aspect of this. In addition, promotional and restrictive measures may be needed to control freight traffic, such as the enforcement of loading zone regulations. A change in modal split between road and rail and the use of low-emission vehicles are also likely to need some policy-based encouragement.
The case studies suggested that city authorities have only limited understanding of freight transport issues, and focus their planning effort instead onto passenger transport. Therefore, LEAN recommended a Europe-wide information campaign targeted on city planners to address this problem.