As maritime container transport grows, transport between European seaports and their hinterland is increasingly becoming a bottleneck, with the low rail share of freight leading to excessive demands on the capacity of the road network. Furthermore, increased demand for storage of containers at terminals will become a problem due to limitations of space. The main problems which require addressing are the reliability of rail transport in terms of transport times and guarantees, its cost (particularly for volumes of less than a trainload), the cost of road-rail trans-shipment in hinterland terminals (including terminal costs and shunting efforts), the effort required to build up intermodal transport chains and missing EDI connections between all actors.
OSIRIS will produce a model solution to the bottleneck and storage problems through the development of integrated rail connections to seaports and the planning of a hub and spoke system between different seaports and the economic regions in their hinterland. It focuses on user requirements, transport demand, intermodal terminal concepts (in the seaport, hinterland and hub), rail transport, business structure and services offered. It also identifies requirements for an information and communications (I&C) system supporting the business process and the terminal operation.
The study will produce:
- the user requirements for the OSIRIS concept;
- a transport corridor oriented potential analysis and forecast for the concept;
- a feasibility study of the OSIRIS concept;
- final report, brochures and a conference presenting the results. Case studies feature hub and spoke systems based on ports in the Rhine delta.
OSIRIS has provided a simulation tool and generic guidance which freight operators can use to improve the quality of seaport-hinterland connections by trains. This is seen as the precursor to demonstration projects.
Key findings from market research conducted by OSIRIS were:
- In contrast to a widely held opinion regarding critical distances, intermodal freight transport by rail can be operated cost-effectively over distances shorter than 500 km if the volumes and frequency are high enough. Private regional railway companies could be successful over distances up to 100 km near major ports.
- The operation of a rail shuttle does not depend only on the distance but also on the volume, i.e. the frequency of the shuttles and the costs involved.
- The application of information and communication systems will play an important role in the development and implementation of intermodal transport.
- Additional terminals could be built or existing terminals modified in order to bundle seaport-hinterland transport where there is a low volume and a wider area of sources and destinations.
- The new and efficient solution for the seaport-hinterland connections by train is based on a configuration which includes three rail services:
- seaport container shuttles, bundling container transport flows from different quay sites of one seaport in order to dispatch them towards a dry port,
- long-distance trains between the dry port and a hub in the hinterland,
- short-distance shuttles, providing rail feeder services to/from hinterland destinations.
The exploitation of the OSIRIS project depends on the will of decision-makers to reduce the dominance of road transport and to develop intermodal transport. The proposed new rail solution between seaports and their hinterland is a means to solve the bottleneck problems of the European road network close to major ports.
OSIRIS has shown that co-operation between all partners in the field of seaport-hinterland transport is necessary to implement freight intermodality efficiently. Decision-makers should therefore improve the exchange of information (EDI, tracking and tracing etc.) along the whole transport chain and increase the free access to infrastructure of all operators in order to encourage competition. The necessary synergy between freight operators (shipping companies, port authorities and railway companies) has to be catalysed by policy makers.