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Pipeline Intermodal System to Support Control, Expedition and Scheduling

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

Intermodal commodity flows are currently merely a sequence of separate stages. At each stage the cargo is halted while it is remarshalled, reloaded, and allocated a 'new' control reference in new systems - a time-consuming and costly process. Intermodal freight transport could be managed more effectively by means of systems that enable smooth transfer of information between all parties (i.e. the senders of goods, the companies moving the goods and the receivers). With such systems, the transport chain could be scheduled and managed as a single process over a range of modes and with different providers.


The project objectives were:

  • to develop and test an integrated system for real-time provision of information to parties involved in freight intermodal transport,
  • to enable a transport chain to be scheduled and managed as a single process, over a range of modes and with different providers, without the need for all the participants to adopt the same information system or even the same information standards.


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)


The principal outcome of the PISCES project is an integrated system for freight intermodal transport that supports the functionality of documentation, booking, in/out gate, traffic optimisation, warehouse management, transport management and route scheduling. The PISCES system is an Internet-based track and trace logistics system communicating to external systems using EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) and e-mail technology. The only client-side requirement is a Java-enabled Web browser to access an URL. The system gives access to an Oracle database that stores data about goods being moved. Because the information is highly confidential, the database has two levels of security. The external security level prevents access to the system by unauthorised users by means of a user code and a password; the internal security level provides different privileges to different users by means of user profile identification.


The PISCES system is provided with a scheduler that is fed from the PISCES database to produce possible routings, minimising distances and costs. The PISCES scheduler is a comprehensive constraint-satisfaction-problem and genetic-algorithm library in C-Java. It contains data structures to describe Vehicle Routing Problems (VRPs), and algorithms to generate satisfactory solutions. In particular, PISCES deals with the triangulation problem, a VRP with time windows, multi-port and multi-depot, handling-side constraints, suggesting intermodal transport alternatives, and providing a rescheduling facility.

Policy implications

The project has restricted its focus to freight intermodal chains involving maritime ports. As a consequence, the prime benefits of the project are mainly confined to shipping lines, road hauliers and trading parties. Nonetheless, the PISCES system could be extended and adapted to other legs of a generic freight intermodal chain. The potential benefits from using the PISCES system include:

  • reduced costs, achieved through better utilisation of resources, more optimised loads and close matching of shipments to priorities;
  • fewer unproductive movements, less empty running for the positioning of containers;
  • lower environmental impact through fewer vehicle running miles, fewer movements of empty units for positioning and reduced vehicle waiting and queuing times;
  • enhanced services to buyers of transport services via better planning information, enhanced track and trace, and more reliable times.

The PISCES scheduler could, in particular, play a significant role in assisting with planning and co-ordination of vehicle routes, jobs, etc., to prevent wasted travel by commercial vehicles. Environmental and economic benefits will result from an improved capability for solving triangulation problems in industry.


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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