The Alps have a sensitive ecosystem through which more than two million trucks pass each year. This road freight traffic causes congestion, noise, and environmental pollution. To counter this, a European project called AlpInnoCT (Alpine Innovations for Combined Transport) aims to increase the efficiency of combined transport, a system where at least two modes of transport, such as rail, inland waterways, or sea, are used in succession. The road is used as little as possible.
Switch to trains
However, 95% of trailers are not designed to transfer from truck to train. In recent years, a solution to this problem was found in the Nikrasa platforms, which are the basis of this project. Nikrasa platforms operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Albert Bastius is COO at TX Logistik AG, a partner in the AlpInnoCT project. He says their goal when developing NIKRASA was to create “a platform that covers most types of trailers.” According to him, about 94% of the trailers currently on the road can be loaded with it. TX Logistik uses 100 of them.
Four members of the European Union participate in AlpInnoCT: Germany, Austria, Italy, Slovenia and Switzerland. The total budget is just over three million euros, 2.5 million of which are financed by the European Cohesion Policy. Some of the main objectives of the project are the reduction of storage time and the construction of new terminals and maneuvering areas.
Better for the environment
AlpInnoCT’s 15 partners share project recommendations and guidelines. Karl Fischer, managing director of Logistik-Kompetenz-Zentrums (LIZ) Prien is leading the project and says the challenges of intermodal transport are both economic and environmental. “In the Alpine region, we can put 30 trailers on one train. Therefore, we can save 29 truck drivers with one locomotive. This is an important contribution to the economy. We are out of truck drivers. So we have odds of 1 to 29! And we can reduce CO2 by 80%,” he explains. However, from a road transport perspective, managers such as Thomas Eberl of Eberl Internationale Spedition GmbH & Co KG, another partner of the AlpInnoCT project, point out that international transport is subject to strict regulations that vary from country to country. He argues that flexibility is the most important thing the market demands. “Our benchmark is the road, and if we want the railways to follow suit, they must be flexible. Logistics and transport companies also need to be flexible,” he adds.
The European Union’s goal is to shift 30% of road freight transport to rail or water transport by 2030 and 50% by 2050.