European Commission: report on Combined Transport

The European Commission DG-MOVE has published a major report on the Combined Transport (intermodal) sector in Europe, the result of a year-long study by a consultancy consortium featuring KombiConsult, Intermodality, Planco and Gruppo Clas.

The report’s executive summary pulls no punches in outlining the challenges and opportunities for using intermodal and multimodal freight transport in Europe, stating:

“Whilst it is unlikely that anyone would disagree with the aims and objectives of the Transport White Paper of 2011, its hope that the performance of supply chains will be optimised and become economically attractive for shippers, remains elusive…The hope would be that, by now, CT would already be addressing the issues outlined in the White Paper, with world-class services continuing to attract customers on the basis of a major (almost dominant) share of freight traffic in Europe over road haulage.

This is very much the case with the North American CT industry, which has seen a dramatic turnaround in fortunes since the 1980’s, transforming a virtually bankrupt and dysfunctional rail sector into a key player in the overland freight market, where legislation is now focussed on limiting its scope for market dominance, rather than to try and stimulate the market to make more use of it.

The opposite applies in the EU. Here, the CT industry has been around for as long as in North America, and the liberalisation of the rail sector from the 1990’s onwards was anticipated by policy-makers to achieve a similar transformation. Twenty years have passed since “open access” liberalisation appeared, and whilst the EU’s CT industry would hopefully by now have been similarly mature and as successful as in North America, it instead appears at times to remain in adolescence and, at worse, at risk of heading for obsolescence.

At present, CT has achieved a market share equivalent to 12% of total road freight, and 9% of all surface freight. To set this further in context, rail freight has a 22% share of the combined volume of road and rail freight – almost half the share achieved in North America.

This is then the fundamental challenge facing CT: most policy-makers wish to see it play a much greater role in addressing the freight-related issues of transport in the EU; many end users would like to see it become much more commercially attractive; but relatively few customers actually use it, and often without any great enthusiasm…

There is no doubt that CT should be capable of significant growth in the years ahead. The extent to which the various CT stakeholders and actors can realise this growth will be conditioned by various factors, most of which relate to current challenges, which can be grouped into the following broad categories:

  • Service providers that still fail to recognise, adopt or improve on the performance benchmarks, or continuous innovation, established by the road haulage industry. Unreliable, unpredictable, inflexible, slow and expensive services, which by their very nature introduce extra risks associated with multiple transport modes and interchanges between them, is unlikely to attract, retain and grow the customer base to any great extent in the face of a road haulage industry which remains agile, aggressive and responsive in spite of its own set of challenges;
  • Failure of rail industry liberalisation to achieve the intended full separation of track from trains, with the breakup of former state-controlled monopolies. A large part of the rail and intermodal freight industry is now controlled by DB / Schenker and SNCF / Geodis, state-funded transport conglomerates each much larger and dominant than before the liberalisation process started, and both seemingly intent on preventing any further liberalisation of the rail industry;
  • Much of the EU’s rail and inland waterway networks are not capable of handling the type of CT traffic which operators and users would like to carry on it…Securing planning consent for new CT terminals may take years due to ponderous national planning processes, compounded by local “environmental” protestors. Solutions are available but funding is constrained and lead times may be extended;
  • The lack of electronic ICT infrastructure…In such a modern ICT-driven world, it is wholly unacceptable for some CT services to still involve the manual re-keying of data between modes and operators, based on hand-delivered or faxed documentation, or for end users to find it challenging to obtain real-time information on services, rates or even the location of their load units. Road haulage is moving forward in this area, the CT sector needs to as well;
  • Commercial and public policy towards use of CT can only ever be as good as the data it relies on. This study has highlighted the very poor quality and depth of data on freight moved by CT services, which at present prevents any forensic analysis of existing activity, or the opportunities to enhance and expand that activity.”

In terms of the 1992 Directive on Combined Transport, the report notes:

“…Some parts of the CT Directive have inevitably been overtaken by wider events, outside and within the CT sector, creating a need to revise or remove parts of the text accordingly. Other parts of the CT Directive have, as will often occur with legislation applied individually in multiple Member States, either not been transposed at all, or only in part, or been subject to various interpretations which, in some cases, may actually depart from the original objectives. This creates a greater administrative burden for CT operators and users managing services across multiple Member States (and in some third countries as well), where the rules at each end may be very differently interpreted and applied.

Yet, the CT Directive still retains a relevant role to play in establishing (or reaffirming) core principles in support of CT, whether with long-established or recent-accession Member States. There is no question that the CT Directive (possibly in an updated form) should be retained as part of the wider promotion of CT within EU transport policy. The majority of stakeholders agree with the need for the CT Directive in supporting CT, as well as the need for it to adapt and improve to support CT in future.

The key lesson learnt here is the need to achieve a delicate balance between, on the one hand, imposing a rigid pan-European “one size fits all” Directive, and on the other, a profusion of different interpretations of the CT Directive which then hinder its overall objectives…harmonising the application of the key provisions of the CT Directive across MS may be material to achieving further breakthroughs in making CT a more mainstream offer.”

In conclusion, the report sets out a way forward for the CT sector:

“…This report sets out a CT sector capable of making a major contribution to commercial and public policy objectives in the coming years. The European Commission has a critical role to play in co-ordinating investment in TEN-T and other cross-border initiatives that will over time suitably enhance the CT infrastructure networks. Alongside this, the CT Directive (with scope for updating and refinement) remains an important and relevant piece of legislation for promoting CT at Member State level. Member States then have a valuable role to play in implementing and enhancing the provisions of the CT Directive and related EU / national policies in support of CT.

Yet all the above measures will count for nothing without radical and real change within the CT sector itself which, in return for continuing to receive scarce public resources (and end user goodwill) on which to build the business, needs to adopt the practices and standards of logistics service providers. The CT sector should then build on these benchmarks, as far as possible, to evolve to a point where (as in North America) support is no longer necessary.

The White Paper concludes that a transformation of the European transport system will only be possible through a combination of manifold initiatives at all levels. For this study and its appraisal of the CT sector, we concur with this conclusion.”

A copy of the report can be found here.

Second rail freight pilot into Central London

Following yesterday’s presentation on express freight to the 22nd Rail Freight Group conference, Intermodality matched words with action by sponsoring last night’s test train by Colas Rail for TNT Express from Rugby to Euston.

TNT delivered cages of products for customers Staples and Bristan into Colas Rail’s Rugby depot, taking only 20 minutes to transfer from road to rail. The train left Rugby to cover the 82 miles direct to Euston station, arriving on time at 02:38. Filmed by camera crews from ITV and TNT, within an hour the cages were transhipped from train into a fleet of waiting TNT electric and low-emission trucks and vans, the road and rail vehicles being clear of the station by 03:49.

Nick Gallop, Director of Intermodality, congratulated TNT, Colas Rail and Network Rail on another successful demonstration of rail’s potential for high-speed, low-carbon deliveries into the heart of towns and cities:

“This trial has more than ever laid to rest the myths about rail freight and urban logistics – the overnight train ran to time, achieved a faster transit than by road, used an otherwise deserted main line station as a freight interchange, and significantly reduced emissions in the process. I am delighted that our sponsorship helped make it happen, reflecting our commitment to raise awareness and promote further innovation in the rail freight sector.”

Intermodality presents industry award to Tesco

Today the Freight Transport Association (FTA) hosted its annual Logistics Carbon Reduction Scheme (LCRS) conference and awards event. LCRS is a voluntary industry-led approach, led by the FTA, to reduce carbon emissions from freight transport by recording and reporting reductions in CO2 emissions.

Intermodality formed part of the the judging panel for the 2013 LCRS awards and this year was invited by FTA to sponsor one of the 5 awards – the award for Breakthrough in Modal Shift, recognising the company which has made the greatest achievement in switching freight from road to rail, inland waterway or maritime transport.

Presenting the award to Caroline Sindrey, Group Distribution Environmental Manager for Tesco, Intermodality Managing Director Nick Gallop said:

“I am pleased to be here today to present the Breakthrough in Modal Shift award, sponsored by Intermodality.

This Awards goes to a company that is making significant use of rail transport. Working closely with rail service providers and suppliers, and having a dedicated rail account manager, has enabled this company to operate five trains running six days a week. Fifty per cent of product is delivered from its rail-linked national grocery distribution centre in Daventry, to other regional distribution centres and stores. This takes significant mileage off the road network, saving carbon emissions.

There are also steps for the company to move goods by short-sea shipping. By transporting goods from Poland direct to Teeside, this completely removes the need for road transport in the UK for these products. Trains and short-sea journeys have therefore saved over 5.5 million road miles. This is an impressive case of modal shift to reduce carbon emissions and I’m delighted to present this award to Tesco.”

Industry award for Eddie Stobart

Intermodality’s Managing Director Nick Gallop today collected first prize for the EIT’s Rail Freight Customer Challenge on behalf of Eddie Stobart for their winning “Stobart Express” initiative.

The Enabling Innovation Team (EIT) was established by the the railway industry and Government to accelerate innovation in the GB railway, to focus on moving business solutions and technologies from prototype through to demonstration and implementation.

The 2013 Rail Customer Experience Competition was aimed at bringing innovation to customer experience in the rail industry, to significantly improve the rail experience for passengers and freight customers. EIT aimed to provide a glimpse into the future – showcasing innovative solutions that could transform the rail customer’s experience. By bringing together rail and non-rail sectors, the event sought to facilitate knowledge exchange and draw new talent into the GB rail industry.

After a two-month submission period, 16 finalists were chosen to go on to pitch their innovations at the Final Live Event in London on September 17th, 2013. Finalists competed for a total purse of £300,000 in cash prizes, plus the opportunity to bid for funding from a total investment pool of £700,000.

The Stobart Express project aims to build on work already in hand to return express freight services to the rail network as a mainstream offer in combination with “last mile” delivery services in urban areas, to providing an intermodal high-speed, low-carbon logistics service able to address modern next-day / same-day national deliveries for e-commerce and home shopping. At the heart of the innovation proposal is the creation of mini “swap pods”, providing a self-contained intermodal load unit for smaller deliveries, capable of being carried within larger existing swap bodies (Stobart has a fleet of several hundred) as well as on smaller local delivery vehicles.

Having made the final shortlist of 4 projects in the Rail Freight Customer Challenge, the judges awarded Eddie Stobart first prize, providing critical start-up funding to develop the “swap pod” system to prototype stage and with scope to pitch for further funding if required.

Intermodality’s Nick Gallop managed the submission of the competition bid in a very short timescale and attended the competition event to pitch to the audience and separately to the judging panel in a private “Dragon’s Den” session during the day. After collecting the award, Nick noted:

“The award of funding is gratefully received, as an invaluable next step for the logistics industry to bettert exploit rail’s unique qualities of high-speed and direct access into towns and cities. Combined with local deliveries in smaller low-emission road vehicles, Stobart Express can meet the challenge of sustainable urban logistics for the e-commerce era. On behalf of Eddie Stobart I would like to thank the judges for selecting the project as one of the prize-winning entries.”

SITA SUEZ: on track for £2bn waste contracts

Intermodality client SITA UK has been selected as preferred bidder for the 30-year £1.18 billion resource recovery contract with Merseyside Recycling and Waste Authority (MWRA), and the 25-year £900 million West London Waste Authority (WLWA) 25-year residual waste contract. Both contracts will put rail freight at the heart of the new operation, generating 3 new daily train services between transfer stations and energy-from-waste facilities.

Merseyside Contract

SITA SEMBCORP UK, a consortium led by SITA UK, with Sembcorp Utilities UK and I-Environment, will manage over 430,000 tonnes of residual household waste each year from Merseyside and Halton. It includes the design, build, finance and operation of two key facilities which both have planning permission in place: a rail loading waste transfer station in Merseyside and a new purpose-built energy-from-waste facility in Teesside. Total capital investment for the two facilities will be around £250 million. Both key facilities are expected to be operational by 2016.

The rail loading waste transfer station will be developed at an existing rail-linked warehouse in Knowsley Industrial Estate. From here, waste will be transported by rail to the new 450,000 tonnes per year energy-from-waste facility, which will be developed on a rail linked site at Wilton International – a 2,000 acre industrial estate managed by Sembcorp Utilities UK near Redcar on Teesside. Two trains per day are expected to operate between the sites, creating a trans-Pennine intermodal rail service which may in time help stimulate other third-party intermodal traffic along the corridor.

West London contract

A consortium led by SITA UK, Lloyds Banking Group and ITOCHU Corporation, will manage up to 300,000 tonnes of residual household waste each year from the West London Boroughs of Brent, Ealing, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow and Richmond-upon-Thames. The waste collected from over 1.4 million residents will be managed in a new energy-from-waste facility in Severnside, South Gloucestershire and transported by rail from West London. Compared to the current waste treatment this will save over 83,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year, which is more than two million tonnes over the duration of the contract.

SITA UK will take over the operation of two rail-linked waste transfer stations in West London. The new rail-linked energy-from-waste facility, which will be called the Severnside Energy Recovery Centre (SERC), already has planning permission. This facility will produce enough electricity to power the equivalent of approximately 50,000 homes and could also supply hot water to local businesses, further improving its environmental performance.

The total capital investment in the new facility is over £240 million. A total of 53 permanent jobs will be created at SERC with around 200 jobs being created during its construction.

Support from Intermodality

Intermodality has worked alongside SITA to help with development of the rail services component of both bid submissions to the Waste Authorities. We are delighted that SITA has secured both major contracts, the strength of the rail component reflecting the close support provided by Network Rail, DB Schenker Rail UK, Potter Logistics and Sembcorp.

Radlett SRFI: planning progress

Today Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, has announced he is “minded to approve” planning permission for a Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (SRFI) on a a disused airfield at Radlett near St Albans, promoted by Helioslough, a joint venture led by Segro.

The Secretary of State revisited the Helioslough scheme after a High Court challenge quashed his original appeal decision, despite the planning inspector recommending in favour of the development.

The minister said he would defer his final decision on the appeal pending submission of a satisfactory planning obligation from the developer.

He acknowledged that the proposal represented “inappropriate development in the Green Belt”. He also recognised that the proposed development would result in significant encroachment into the countryside, contribute to urban sprawl “and cause some harm to the setting of St Albans”.

However, the minister said that there were “very special circumstances” which warranted his intention to grant planning permission for the strategic rail freight interchange.

He also said that the Government would not, after all, consider the Radlett project alongside proposals for a freight terminal at Colnbrook near Slough at a joint inquiry. This option had been canvassed as part of the exercise revisiting the original decision.

Intermodality has worked with Helioslough from the project’s inception in 2003, providing support on development of the rail masterplan and planning documentation through two applications and two Public Inquiries. It is hoped that this decision by Government will enable all the stakeholders involved to conclude the protracted planning process within the short term.

Rail freight returns to Central London

Tonight a freight train quietly slipped back into London’s Euston station, nearly a decade after the last train departed, and the culmination of 6 years’ work with some of the UK’s major supermarkets, the rail industry and iconic road haulier Eddie Stobart.

Back in 2006 Steve Mulvey, Food Logistics Manager for Marks & Spencer at the time, posed us a simple question – concerned about the ability to continue to service M&S stores in London by road against growing traffic congestion and delivery restrictions, could he get goods into the centre of London by rail instead?

We took up the challenge, working with Network Rail and several rail freight operators to assess the options for running trains with ambient and chilled product from regional distribution centres into the heart of London and other major cities.

Looking across the various major passenger stations in London, it emerged that Euston still retained a largely-disused 18,000m2 (200,000ft2) mezzanine floor, purpose-built as part of the station’s reconstruction in the 1960’s for handling freight traffic to and from the capital, accessed by ramps from the outer platforms on the station which were also purpose-built for handling road vehicles. Given the unique opportunity, Euston therefore became the focus for the project.

By 2010 the project had drawn further attention from client Eddie Stobart, its key rail freight customer Tesco, and others including Sainsburys, as Steve’s original concerns about deliveries in London were now becoming a wider issue. Discussions with rail freight operator Colas Rail led to the company rescuing a small fleet of high-speed freight wagons (last used for carrying cars on the Cornish sleeper services), which were at risk of being scrapped, to provide a means of delivering roll cages into stations across the rail network.

In 2010 the Institute for Sustainability invited Eddie Stobart to join a pan-European consortium seeking to address urban “last-mile” logistics in a number of major cities in North West Europe, including London and Paris. Having secured funding in 2012 from the European Commission’s INTERREG programme, the LaMiLo (Last Mile Logistics) consortium set to work developing pilot projects, including developing a rail service into Euston.

Today’s pilot run into Euston has involved a project team led by Eddie Stobart, working with Colas Rail, Network Rail, Sainsburys and the London Borough of Camden. Colas Rail returned the freight wagons to service, adding securing straps for roll cages, obtained an electric locomotive and constructed a small cross-docking platform at its Rugby depot to allow roll cages to be transferred from truck to train.

Eddie Stobart collected a batch of roll cages with store deliveries from Sainsbury’s distribution centre in the West Midlands, delivering these to the Colas Rail depot at Rugby for loading onto the train. The train then left Rugby for its run into Euston, where the roll cages were loaded into another Eddie Stobart local delivery vehicle, which made a number of overnight runs to various Sainsbury’s stores across London.

The trial run has been a complete success, reflecting the hard work and support by all the parties involved. Network Rail staff from the Freight team and Station management at Euston have pulled out all the stops with Colas Rail to make the train operations work smoothly, in liaison with Camden Council within which Euston is located. Alongside reactivated storage facilities on the station, such services would remove long-distance trucks from London in favour of smaller low-impact delivery vehicles more appropriate for local deliveries to stores and homes.

We were delighted that Steve Mulvey, now retired from M&S, was with us tonight to see his original idea come to fruition.

Eddie Stobart: driving on gas

Stobart Group and BOC have been selected by the Government to receive funding to stimulate the market for more environmentally-friendly dual-fuel trucks.

Stobart Group’s transport and distribution division Eddie Stobart has been testing a small fleet of Volvo dual-fuel vehicles with selected clients, where Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) replaces up to 90% of the diesel fuel used to drive the engine. The award-winning programme uses standard Volvo engines, mated with a specialist dual-fuel management system and in the event that the system runs out of LNG, the engine switches automatically to normal diesel mode.

Despite the environmental benefits that this new technology offers, Eddie Stobart’s ability to increase the vehicle fleet requires considerable investment, not only in the vehicles themselves, but also in the specialist LNG refueling facilities, of which only a small number exist in the UK at present. This significantly limits the range offered by dual-fuel vehicles and therefore the potential carbon saving benefits.

The funding provided by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) will be matched by an investment from Eddie Stobart. This will enable its fleet of Volvo dual-fuel tractor units to be increased and allow BOC, the UK’s largest provider of compressed and liquefied gas, to install an LNG refueling station at one of Eddie Stobart’s regional hubs – with access available to other dual-fuel vehicle operators.

The trial aims to determine the ability of the vehicles to achieve up to 90% substitution of diesel by LNG, reduce carbon emissions by up to 25%, and avoid the potential loss of gas vented from conventional systems during refueling. The robust testing of the vehicle and refueling technologies in the field, as an integrated part of a larger vehicle fleet, will enable further refinement of the technology and provide significant opportunities to help drive sustainability in the logistics sector.

Intermodality supported Stobart Group with the successful TSB grant application and will now be managing the 3-year project on behalf of Stobart and BOC.

Intermodality scoops industry award

Intermodality is proud to have won the Support Service Provider of the Year award at last night’s Rail Freight Group event in Oxford. The judges commented:

“Our winner is a leading light in the demystification of rail freight – with an impressive portfolio of projects over the last year including getting freight on HS1, W10 gauge from Southampton to the WCML, Stobart’s UK – Spain intermodal service, new Strategic Freight Interchanges planned near St Albans and Doncaster , and a proposed rail connected Food Hub at Spalding.”

Intermodality was recommended for the award by a number of our clients, who noted:

Stobart Group:

“Intermodality has unfailingly given us robust advice and inspired guidance, high level technical and operational expertise and skills – and also demonstrated exceptional value for money. Their constant enthusiasm – and an unflinchingly half full glass – means that we are always alert to new opportunities in the market, new funds on the horizon and new partnership avenues. As a leading provider in the UK of multimodal logistics, we understand the importance of having the best advice and support on hand at all times. Intermodality always feel part of the team rather than outsiders looking in. That loyalty and closeness to our business means that they are respected by us all and their 100% reliability record means they are completely trusted too.”

Helios Properties:

“We have worked with Intermodality for over 10 years on some of the UK ‘s largest rail-related commercial property projects. During this period we have consistently enjoyed professional advice of the highest standard with a true insider’s grasp of the rail freight industry. Intermodality give us a commercial perspective to the delivery of rail freight projects, demystify what might appear complex technical problems, actively introduce us to clients and rail industry partners and in doing so bring forward fuller integration of the railway into our logistics developments. In our opinion no other rail related consultancy in the UK provides the property industry with this quality of service. “

South East England Development Agency & The Institute for Sustainability:

“Intermodality has been providing expert advice in the rail and logistics field for SEEDA from 2006 to the end of 2010. They were instrumental in informing SEEDA’s regional economic policies relating to the important link between freight, logistics and its sustainable operation in a heavily congested South East England region. They assisted with a number of crucial freight projects, not least unlocking the delivery of the rail gauge enhancement from Southampton Port to the Midlands . In SEEDA, we were always able to trust Intermodality’s professional integrity, pragmatic approach to finding viable solutions and excellent contacts to key operators in the industry. Intermodality is now participating in a number of EU funded projects which have transferred to the Institute for Sustainability, which Nick Gallop from Intermodality has joined as a Technical Associate.”

Responding to the award, Managing Director Nick Gallop noted:

“We normally like to stay out of the limelight and let our client’s achievements speak for themselves. However, on this occasion we have been truly humbled and delighted by the nominations of our clients and I am delighted to accept this award in gratitude to their ongoing support, and on behalf of our team of past and present consultants, whose collective “Can Do” approach has delivered time after time over the last decade. I would also wish to give personal thanks to RFG and the judging panel for making this award to Intermodality, it is very much appreciated.”

iPort SRFI: planning consent

Helioslough has been granted planning consent for a major new ‘inland port’ facility at Rossington, near Doncaster . The new Strategic Rail Freight Interchange (SRFI) will feature a central intermodal terminal and reception sidings, flanked by warehousing with dedicated rail access.

The site will link to the East Coast Main Line at Doncaster , and Junction 3 of the M18. Rail access has been designed to cater for W10 loading gauge and future 775m length trains.

Mike Hughes, chief executive office of Helios Europe, said: “The inland port development is of strategic importance to Doncaster and the wider region and will be a major catalyst for inward investment and significant economic growth. With the support of Doncaster Council we are advancing our plans to prepare for a construction start in 2012.”

The Inland Port is the largest green belt development to have been granted permission the UK , and was not called in for consideration by the Secretary of State. The development is expected to employ more than 5,500 on site and, as with other major inland terminals such as DIRFT and Hams Hall, will help further increase mode shift of long-distance freight from road to rail.

Intermodality is proud to have been involved in the project from its inception, including rail input to the overall masterplan and the subsequent planning process.