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Thematic Network on Freight Transfer Points and Terminals

European Union
Complete with results
Geo-spatial type
Infrastructure Node
Project Acronym
STRIA Roadmaps
Network and traffic management systems (NTM)
Transport mode
Multimodal icon
Transport sectors
Freight transport


Background & Policy context

Elementary knowledge on intermodal terminal network on European level is lacking. Research is needed on this area. There is very little information on international Origin Destination (O-D) flows. Some EU financed research projects include this kind of information but further integration of this information is needed. Intermodal traffic needs a clear target, for example 10 or 20% share of the transport. Today, the definition of intermodal traffic is too narrow and unclear.

Overview of previous EC research on intermodal transport and terminals shows that most of last decade's research has focused on the terminal and transhipment technologies which do not appear to be the main problem. The economic and efficient performance of the facility as part of the overall logistics chain is a key for competitive terminals operating at a high quality service level and integrated within the transport network.


The main objectives of EUTP are to run a permanent and dynamic network, to enhance exchange of data and information, and to create synergy in the European research effort related to intermodal freight transfer points. The aim is to form a European RTD strategy to enhance and develop the intermodal transport sector through a more efficient use of intermodal transfer points. The network comprises researchers, industry representatives, policy makers, transport operators, and transport consultants.


The EUTP II project complements the work programme of the European Commission Fifth Framework Programme on RTD through its objective to enhance the European RTD strategy to further develop intermodal transport and to enhance interoperability. Strengthening intermodality in Europe will support the competitive position of European industry while reducing congestion, pollution and other negative effects on the environment. Collection and analysis of existing material is undertaken, including the preparation of an inventory of the state of the art building on findings both from national and international level.

The work is separated into the following main categories:

Steering Committee consisting of national representatives
The Steering Committee that has been created comprises representatives from 14 member states, OECD, European Parliament and EU. The members are representing ministries as well as the research and private sectors.
In total there were 4 Steering Committee meetings, in which the following subjects were discussed:

  • EU intermodal policy and research initiatives, E-commerce and distribution;
  • Inland waterway transport, low priority for transport research in some countries, reflections on the White Paper, development of national intermodal transport, national RTD programmes, national subsidy programmes, aims to shift freight transport from road to intermodal transport, intermodal in urban areas and national policy papers;
  • National research programmes including Interreg, telematics developments, infrastructure usage and some intermodal projects such as CESAR, CroBIT (Cross-border information technology) and co-operation with ERTICO;
  • New EU policy and research initiatives, intermodal loading units, freight integrator action plan, logistics research activities and transport security; 
  • The evolution of combined transport in Europe, especially quality problems with railways.

The clustering activities

Three clusters are defined:

  1. Policy, organisational aspects and network integration
  2. Infrastructure, transport equipment and transfer means
  3. Information and communication systems.

There have also been 4 cluster meetings.

The cluster approach is employed to enhance the co-operation between national and European RTD on


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


The Steering Committee drew the following conclusions:

  • Transport policy actions

    - EU policy and national goals are in line with the White Paper: the objective is the shift from road to other modes;
  • Rail, short sea shipping and inland waterways

    - There are several and different types of national investment and funding programmes for combined transport and subsidy programmes for terminals;
  • The toll system is expected to increase road costs by 15-20% in Germany: effects on rail pricing and mode shift are discussed;
  • TEN networks: port terminals are included in TEN but other intermodal non-port terminals such as road/rail are not.
  • There are several national intermodal research programmes (rail). There are subsidies for national rail operators in order to decrease intermodal freight prices. There are also rail terminal financing aids.

    (waterways). Inland waterways development is ongoing (container vessels and traffic), a good example is the Via-Donau company. Short sea shipping is also developing
  • Transport telematics: New advanced information systems e.g. RIS and Cesar are promoting the intermodal market.
  • Other actions which have influence on intermodal

    - Road tolls

    - East - West transport

    - Research networks such as Nectar

Three clusters were created and each cluster consisted of members from the consortium and 6-8 experts selected from the research sector, the public administration and the transport industry. The goal of each cluster has been to define results and recommendations from research projects and from pilot and demonstration activities. Furthermore, each cluster made recommendations for policy initiatives.

The three clusters defined are:

  • Policy, organisational aspects and network integration;
  • Infrastructure, transport equipment and transfer means;
  • Information and communication systems.

The main conclusions from the clustering meetings are the following:

  • Elementary knowledge on intermodal terminal network on European level is lacking.
  • There is no common view of financing of intermodal terminals at the European level.
  • Every country has different financing systems.
  • Earning

    Policy implications

    The five most important future topics for improving the productivity of intermodal freight transport were identified in:

    • Logistics chain management tools Reference centre for freight terminals Intermodal nodes as a part of TEN network
    • Organisational aspects in the logistics chain - integration of actor
    • Centralised information/data for information flow management.

    Based on all of the clustering activities and seminars carried out, they were later re-worked by the EUTP Consortium to be:


    I) European intermodal terminal network

    There are three basic aspects:

    • Basic knowledge of intermodal terminal network on European level is lacking.
    • There is no common view of financing for intermodal terminals.
    • Intermodal terminals are not directly connected to the TEN-T network

    II) Quality of services

    Quality negotiations underway with traditional railways but no real results have been attained yet. Railways will not compensate if trains are late. Now end users are paying the same for a train regardless of how late it is. The Commission has proposed in the 3rd Railway Package a directive that makes a certain compensation obligatory. Good quality helps everyone i.e. client, operators and railways.


    III) Security (in the terminal and along the chain)

    Security is the priority challenge now. Currently, there is a lack of overall vision for implementing security measures for passenger and goods transport in an integrated fashion. The main question is, will ports become economic bottlenecks? In this respect need:

    • To have adequate training for all actors along the entire logistics chain
    • Traceability of goods which is becoming mandatory - need EC guidance for this
    • To avoid disruption of competition (Europe cannot become marginalised)
    • To ensure that security provisions should not become another burden to intermodal transport
    • To co-ordinate world-wide at the national and international levels.

    This requires a comprehensive research of existing regulations at an international level. Risk assessment along all points in the chain needs to be undertaken.


    IV) Organ


Lead Organisation
EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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