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TRANSPORT

Intermodal Freight Transport


INSTITUTIONAL ASPECTS

What is intermodal transport? What are its "institutional aspects"? What is effective
intermodal transport policy and how does it differ from road transport policy or rail
transport policy? Today's highly competitive global marketplace calls for a policy
framework that can evolve to meet the expectations of users. This new report provides
insight into these and other issues.
« Intermodal
Freight Transport
INSTITUTIONAL ASPECTS

TRANSPORT

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Intermodal Freight
Transport
INSTITUTIONAL ASPECTS

ORGANISATION FOR ECONOMIC CO-OPERATION AND DEVELOPMENT


ORGANISATION FOR ECONOMIC CO-OPERATION
AND DEVELOPMENT

Pursuant to Article 1 of the Convention signed in Paris on 14th December 1960, and which came into
force on 30th September 1961, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
shall promote policies designed:
– to achieve the highest sustainable economic growth and employment and a rising standard of
living in Member countries, while maintaining financial stability, and thus to contribute to the
development of the world economy;
– to contribute to sound economic expansion in Member as well as non-member countries in the
process of economic development; and
– to contribute to the expansion of world trade on a multilateral, non-discriminatory basis in
accordance with international obligations.
The original Member countries of the OECD are Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France,
Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain,
Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States. The following countries
became Members subsequently through accession at the dates indicated hereafter: Japan
(28th April 1964), Finland (28th January 1969), Australia (7th June 1971), New Zealand (29th May 1973),
Mexico (18th May 1994), the Czech Republic (21st December 1995), Hungary (7th May 1996), Poland
(22nd November 1996), Korea (12th December 1996) and the Slovak Republic (14th December 2000). The
Commission of the European Communities takes part in the work of the OECD (Article 13 of the OECD
Convention).

Publié en français sous le titre :


TRANSPORT INTERMODAL DE MARCHANDISES
Aspects institutionnels

© OECD 2001
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FOREWORD

The OECD’s Road Transport and Intermodal Linkage (RTR) Research Programme for 1998-2000
included a mandate for the establishment of an Intermodal Freight Transportation Advisory Group. The
mandate continues the OECD’s commitment to review the current state of freight-related transport
research covering all OECD Member countries and regions. Previous work carried out by the RTR
Programme has shown that economic growth and development require a greater effort on the part of
public sector transport regulators and infrastructure providers to meet the evolving expectations of
private sector shippers and service providers operating in a highly competitive global marketplace.
The Intermodal Freight Transport Advisory Group will examine key topics focusing on critical
aspects of the role of governments in promoting intermodal transport, including:
• Institutional aspects.
• Benchmarking and system performance measures.
• International freight corridor development
These topics are being addressed in sequence. The research agenda is intended to help define the
elements of an intermodal freight transport system that makes efficient use of the various transport
modes involved in the management of supply chains from the producers of raw materials to the
consumers of final products. This report on Institutional Aspects of Intermodal Transport represents the
initial output of the Intermodal Freight Transport Advisory Group. It is published on the responsibility
of the Secretary-General of the OECD.

© OECD 2001
OECD RTR PROGRAMME

INTERMODAL FREIGHT TRANSPORT: INSTITUTIONAL ASPECTS


Abstract
Industry has increasingly adopted an intermodal approach to the provision of transport services
required by users. The main reasons for government involvement in intermodal transport policy are to
promote the efficient use of infrastructure, facilitate improved services to users and address
environmental concerns associated with the use of individual transport modes. Intermodal policy
development is especially important where governments own transport infrastructure (such as ports
and terminals) and transport business operations (such as rail freight operators). Even in countries with
a high degree of reliance on market forces, governments need appropriate intermodal policies to be
able to deal with efficiency, taxes and charges and environmental issues on a transport system basis.
Organisational arrangements are important to intermodal policy development and operations.
Intermodal transport policy units or other institutional arrangements tailored to intermodal
requirements can provide a greater policy focus and improve communications with industry as well as
within government. OECD Member countries have developed a variety of policy instruments and
measures which aim to improve intermodal transport outcomes. Further work is being undertaken to
develop benchmarks for intermodal performance and policy options to address remaining
impediments to intermodal efficiency.

© OECD 2001
TABLE OF CONTENTS

Intermodal Freight Transport: Institutional Aspects................................................................................. 7


Executive Summary ......................................................................................................................................... 7
Background and tasks ...................................................................................................................................... 7
Modal approaches are necessary prerequisites… but not sufficient ........................................................ 7
Different approaches can be taken, depending on governmental involvement in transport
ownership/provision and transport operations .................................................................................... 8
Policy instruments ............................................................................................................................................ 8
Communication between intermodal transport policy units and other actors......................................... 8
Performance-based outcomes ........................................................................................................................ 8
Identification and removal of impediments.................................................................................................. 9

Chapter 1. The project .................................................................................................................................... 11


Background and tasks ...................................................................................................................................... 11
Definition ........................................................................................................................................................... 12

Chapter 2. Intermodal Transport Challenges.............................................................................................. 13


Introduction ....................................................................................................................................................... 13
Why promote intermodal policies? ................................................................................................................ 14
Measuring the extent of intermodalism......................................................................................................... 15
Specific problems concerning intermodal transport.................................................................................... 20

Chapter 3. Policies, Organisational Structures and Instruments: An Overview .................................... 23


Introduction ....................................................................................................................................................... 23
Intermodal policy statements ......................................................................................................................... 23
Organisational structures ................................................................................................................................. 25
Instruments........................................................................................................................................................ 25

Chapter 4. National Policies and Organisational Structures.................................................................... 29


Introduction ....................................................................................................................................................... 29
Austria ................................................................................................................................................................ 29
Canada................................................................................................................................................................ 29
Czech Republic ................................................................................................................................................. 30
Finland ............................................................................................................................................................... 31
Germany............................................................................................................................................................. 31
Hungary .............................................................................................................................................................. 32
Italy ..................................................................................................................................................................... 32
Japan ................................................................................................................................................................... 33
Mexico ................................................................................................................................................................ 34
The Netherlands ............................................................................................................................................... 34
Norway................................................................................................................................................................ 35
Switzerland ........................................................................................................................................................ 36
United Kingdom................................................................................................................................................ 37
United States..................................................................................................................................................... 37
European Union ................................................................................................................................................ 38 5

© OECD 2001
Intermodal Freight Transport: Institutional Aspects

Chapter 5. Conclusions ................................................................................................................................... 41


Aim and rationale for intermodal transport ................................................................................................... 41
Modal approaches are necessary… but not sufficient................................................................................. 41
Different approaches can be taken, depending on governmental involvement in transport
ownership/provision and transport operations..................................................................................... 42
Policy instruments............................................................................................................................................. 42
Communication between intermodal transport policy units and other actors ......................................... 43
Performance-based outcomes......................................................................................................................... 44
Identification and removal of impediments .................................................................................................. 44
Annex 1: Policies and organisational structures in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom,
the United States and the European Union .................................................................................. 45
The Netherlands................................................................................................................................................ 45
Research and development............................................................................................................................. 49
United Kingdom ................................................................................................................................................ 52
United Kingdom intermodal traffic – Further statistics................................................................................ 61
United States ..................................................................................................................................................... 62
European Union ................................................................................................................................................ 66
Non-member responses .................................................................................................................................. 70
Slovak Republic................................................................................................................................................. 70
Slovenia .............................................................................................................................................................. 70
Annex 2: Intermodal Freight Transportation Advisory Group ..................................................................... 71
Notes................................................................................................................................................................... 72

Tables
1. Intermodal transport in the Netherlands............................................................................................... 16
2. Intermodal transport in Canada .............................................................................................................. 17
3. Intermodal transport in the Czech Republic ......................................................................................... 17
4. Intermodal freight transport in the United Kingdom ........................................................................... 18
5. Intermodal transport in Japan.................................................................................................................. 18
6. EU Intermodal freight transport .............................................................................................................. 19
7. Explicit objectives of national governments with respect to intermodal transport ......................... 24
8. Legislation and regulations favouring intermodal transport, 1997 ..................................................... 26
Annex
A1. Toolkit for intermodal policy fields ........................................................................................................ 49
A2. Intermodal transport in the Netherlands............................................................................................... 50
A3. Intermodal transport in the Netherlands............................................................................................... 51
A4. Freight facilities grants ............................................................................................................................. 60
A5. Track access grants.................................................................................................................................... 60
A6. Unitised/containerised tonnage imported or exported via the Channel Tunnel, 1996 .................... 61
A7. Unitised/containerised automotive and other tonnage imported or exported via the Channel
Tunnel, 1996 ........................................................................................................................................... 61
A8. Breakdown of inland water freight by type............................................................................................ 62

Figures
A1. Relationship between freight tonne-kilometres and GDP .................................................................. 57
A2. Relationship between vehicle-kilometres and GDP ............................................................................ 58

© OECD 2001
INTERMODAL FREIGHT TRANSPORT: INSTITUTIONAL ASPECTS

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Background and tasks

This project on institutional aspects aimed to compare and assess the impact of different
organisational structures on transport planning and intermodal policy development. The key focus was
the government – rather than the private – sector. The starting point was the observation that transport
policy and organisational arrangements have generally developed along modal lines, which may hinder
the adoption of a co-ordinated intermodal approach. The project was not aimed at identifying and
removing impediments to intermodal transport operations. These are properly matters for later work.
This report does not address whether one policy (or combination of policies) is more effective or
appropriate than another, but rather provides a “toolkit” for setting up intermodal arrangements or
evaluating organisational structures on intermodal transport.

Definition of intermodalism

Intermodalism is not limited to the promotion of a modal shift from road transport to other modes.
It also stands for the promotion of improvements in the transport chain without modal shift. For the
purpose of this study, a fairly general and broad definition has been chosen.
Intermodalism implies the use of at least two different modes of transport in an integrated manner in a door-to-door
transport chain.
While the concept of intermodalism encompasses all freight movements involving two or more modes
of transportation, the principal focus in this study was on movement of non-bulk and containerised freight.

Modal approaches are necessary prerequisites… but not sufficient

• Intermodal transport is hampered if the performance of any of the key transport modes is
inadequate or if the linkages between modes are not efficient and reliable. Many of the policy
measures considered likely to promote “intermodalism” include – but are not limited to – mode-
specific actions.
• In most countries, there is emphasis in the policy frameworks on promoting transport efficiency
and facilitating modal reform. While the approaches to achieving transport efficiency
improvements differ, policy frameworks generally support competitive operating environments.
• In order to achieve improvements in efficiency and environmental outcomes that go beyond
those that can be realised by purely modal policies, many countries are now considering
transport issues from the perspective of the whole door-to-door transport chain.
– It is difficult to design and implement “true” intermodal measures given that the costs can often
be considerable (and beyond the resources of individual users) while the benefits can be widely
dispersed across a range of users and difficult to recover under current pricing systems. 7

© OECD 2001
Intermodal Freight Transport: Institutional Aspects

Different approaches can be taken, depending on governmental involvement in transport


ownership/provision and transport operations
• Governments which have a high level of involvement in transport infrastructure ownership/
provision and transport operations need to be actively involved in intermodal policy
development and the intermodal actions taken by their transport operations.
• In countries where there is increasing private ownership and/or operation of transport
infrastructure (as governments have withdrawn from involvement in commercial transport
operations), intermodal transport improvements are largely driven by industry interests (shippers
and carriers) seeking to provide value-added services and find least-cost solutions to
transportation problems.
• In countries with a high level of reliance on market forces and private infrastructure ownership
and operations, there are nevertheless a number of policy issues relating to the efficiency of
transport services, charging and taxing regimes and environmental aspects of transport
infrastructure and operations that require intermodal policy consideration.

Policy instruments
– Transport administrations with established and dedicated intermodal transport programmes and
resources – such as a special action programme, a special task force, an intermodal transport
policy unit or other similar organisational provisions – have developed more explicit and more
focused intermodal transport policies than have transport administrations having purely “mono”-
modal units.
• Governments that are more interventionist or more directly involved in ownership of transport
operations are also likely to use regulatory measures such as licensing exemptions and driving
bans at specified times to favour intermodal transport. In countries with greater reliance on
market forces, use of such regulatory instruments by government is limited.

Communication between intermodal transport policy units and other actors


• Intermodal policy development requires co-operative arrangements between government and
the private sector.
• Intermodal transport policies and improvements need to be developed co-operatively with
modal approaches to ensure that they are targeted at existing impediments and aimed at getting
the linkages right.
– The likelihood of intermodal transport policy being successful depends on the relationship
between intermodal transport policy units (or other policy structures), industry advisory bodies
and other stakeholders.

Performance-based outcomes
– Possible organisational benchmarks can be identified, but it is extremely difficult to measure the
effectiveness of a policy and even more difficult to compare the effectiveness of policies in
different countries. Instead, the approaches outlined provide a “toolkit” for countries when
setting up intermodal arrangements or considering organisational structures for intermodal
transport.
– The true value of intermodal approaches should be assessed in terms of performance “on the
ground”, rather than in terms of factors such as institutional arrangements alone.
– Intermodal projects should be evaluated on a “case-by-case” basis, working with the private and
public sector organisations involved. Such an approach is similar to that adopted in many other
aspects of transport (such as safety) where macro indicators may not provide a reliable guide to
8 the effectiveness of individual programmes.

© OECD 2001
Executive Summary

Identification and removal of impediments


• Further work should concentrate on developing benchmarks for monitoring intermodal
performance of modes, modal combinations and modal interfaces and identifying policy options
for governments to address impediments to intermodal efficiency.

© OECD 2001
Chapter 1
THE PROJECT

Background and tasks


The OECD’s Road Transport and Intermodal Linkage (RTR) Research Programme for the 1998-2000
period, included a mandate for the establishment of an Intermodal Freight Transportation Advisory
Group. The mandate continues the OECD’s commitment to review the current state of freight-related
transport research covering all OECD Member countries and regions. A number of conferences and
seminars, organised or co-sponsored by the OECD and various stakeholders as part of the TRILOG
(Trilateral Logistics) project, have shown that the economic growth and development dynamics require
a greater effort on the part of public sector transport regulators and infrastructure providers to
understand and meet the evolving expectations of private sector shippers and service providers
operating in a highly competitive global marketplace.
The Intermodal Freight Transport Advisory Group has debated a wide range of public and private
sector concerns and issued a report to the RTR Steering Committee, which in turn authorised the
Advisory Group to proceed with the further investigation of three topics, selected from a list of possible
research areas. The key topics chosen focused on critical aspects of the governments’ role in promoting
intermodalism, namely:
• Institutional aspects.
• Benchmarking and system performance measures.
• International freight corridor development.
Each of these topics is being addressed in sequence. The research agenda, separately and
collectively, is intended to help define the elements of an intermodal freight transport system that
makes equitable and efficient use of the advantages of the various transport modes involved in the
management of supply chains from the producers of raw materials to the consumers of final products.
The members of the Advisory Group participating in the respective sub-group activities have benefited
from the results of the OECD TRILOG Conferences sponsored by the North American Task Force held in
Mexico City (1997), Toronto (1998) and Washington (1998), as well as the conferences organised by the
Asia Task Force held in Tokyo (1998) and the European Task Force seminars held in Brussels (1998). In
addition, the members have been involved in conferences on intermodal transport sponsored by
national industry associations, academic institutes and state and local government agencies, as well as
various international finan ce institutions and other multilateral entities.
This report reflects contributions of participants at the sub-group meetings held in Paris in April and
November of 1999 and written communications issued either preceding or following the discussions as
well as contributions received by the working group from other sources.
The project on institutional aspects aimed to compare and assess the impact of different
organisational structures on transport planning and policy development. The key focus was the
government – rather than the private – sector. The starting point was the observation that transport
policy and organisational arrangements have generally developed along modal lines, which may hinder
the adoption of a co-ordinated multimodal approach. The institutional aspects project was not aimed at
identifying and removing impediments to intermodal transport operations. These are properly matters
for later stages of the work. The benchmarking part of the project will report on measures to assess the 11

© OECD 2001
Intermodal Freight Transport: Institutional Aspects

performance of modes and modal combinations, while the freight corridors work will consider existing
impediments to intermodal transport and recommend improvements.
The tasks established for the project on institutional aspects included:
• The development of benchmarks to compare the effectiveness of different organisational
structures in delivering cohesive transport policies.
• Comparing different national and international organisations and their mechanisms to develop
integrated transport policy options.
• Assessing the extent to which countries are reviewing regulations to improve intermodal
transport, with consideration being given to the current state of play for transport policy making.
In the course of the project, it was determined that the first task was not completely feasible: it is
possible to identify benchmarks, but it is extremely difficult to measure the effectiveness of a policy
and even more difficult to compare the effectiveness of policies in different countries. At any one time,
many interacting policies (both modal and intermodal) are at play. Therefore, this report does not
address whether one policy (or combination of policies) is more effective or appropriate than another,
but rather provides a “toolkit” for setting up intermodal arrangements or evaluating organisational
structures on intermodal transport.

Definition

Many concepts and definitions are used, depending on the context and objectives. For example, the
notion of “multimodal transport” is generally used for the carriage of goods by at least two modes. The
notion of “intermodal transport,” as used in the common terminology in force within the European Union
(EU), UN Economic Commission for Europe (UN/ECE) and the European Conference of Ministers for
Transport (ECMT), concerns the movement of goods in one and the same loading unit (e.g. a container) or
vehicle which uses successively several modes of transport without handling of the goods themselves while
changing modes. In the same terminology, the notion of “combined transport” is used for intermodal
transport of unitised cargo where the major part of the European journey is by rail and any initial or final leg
is carried out by road. For EU subsidy schemes, this definition is even more detailed.
In the light of the objectives that appeared to predominate in most of the countries studied in this
project, it should be emphasised that, in this report, intermodalism refers to the goal of making the optimal use of
all the various modes of transportation. This notion assumes that the use of multiple modes for a single trip
can be advantageous from both an efficiency and environmental point of view. All freight movements
involving at least two or more modes of transportation, from a point of origin to a destination, can
therefore be defined as intermodal. The modes involved can encompass van and truck, railroad, barge
and ship, air cargo liner and pipeline.
Characterised in this way, intermodalism is not limited to the promotion of a modal shift from road
transport to other modes. It also stands for the promotion of improvements in the transport chain
without modal shift. For the purposes of this study, a fairly general and broad definition of
intermodalism has been chosen.

Definition

Intermodalism implies the use of at least two different modes of transport in an integrated manner in a door-to-door
transport chain.

While the concept of intermodalism encompasses all freight movements involving two or more
modes of transportation. It should also be emphasised that the principal focus in this study was on the
12 movement of non-bulk and containerised freight.

© OECD 2001
Chapter 2
INTERMODAL TRANSPORT CHALLENGES

Introduction
Intermodal transport, in the context of the seamless movement of goods from origin to destination by two or
more modes, is a growing component of the transportation sector. With heightened emphasis on increased
productivity and efficiency in the transportation industry, the importance placed by the manufacturing
and service sectors on such concepts as “just-in-time” delivery, the shift towards e-business/e-commerce
applications and the ever-increasing movement towards a global economy, mode-specific approaches
are no longer able to meet effectively the needs of shippers, manufacturers and consumers. Industry is
now thinking in terms of the management of the entire supply chain. In turn, governments are re-
examining policies and legislative/regulatory frameworks to ensure that the provision and management
of transportation networks and infrastructure are able to meet the needs of the future.
This chapter presents the background to the development of intermodal policies; the ways in
which such policies are being monitored and the challenges Member countries face in implementing
their policies, particularly at an international level. It introduces the various approaches adopted by
Member countries to policy setting, and points the way towards the conclusions presented in Chapter 5.
Overall, it would appear that there is no set path to developing intermodal policy – different situations
require different approaches. While a prerequisite for effective and efficient intermodal transport is
adequate performance of the individual modes, a mode-specific approach does not appear to be
sufficient to achieving efficient intermodal transport systems.
In the main, intermodal policies have developed out of a desire to improve the efficiency and the
effectiveness with which the entire transport network is used. Support of economic growth,
improvement of transport cost effectiveness and reduction of environmental and social impacts were
the main justifications for the adoption of intermodal policies in Member countries. Promoting efficient
linkages between all modes of transport is widely considered to be a prerequisite to such a policy.
The development of intermodal indicators would be helpful in assessing the current state of
intermodalism and evaluating the success of past policies and instruments. However, Member country
definitions of what constitutes intermodal transport vary widely. This means that the indicators used to
monitor the success of individual policies also vary extensively, making data comparisons difficult and
not always meaningful. Countries which were able to provide data, did so in a mode-specific manner –
there is a lack of true intermodal data. Most Member countries use narrow definitions of intermodal
transport, such as “containerised rail and marine volumes” and “modal split data”. It is doubtful that
many countries could readily provide data concerning “true” intermodal volumes, i.e. the volume of
traffic, from point of origin to final destination, which moves on more than one mode of transport. This
lack of data comparability among countries indicates a serious problem if any further analytical work is
to be undertaken.
Most OECD countries are concerned with the efficiency, related costs and performance of
intermodal transport, while cross-border issues are important in all OECD regions. One of the major
concerns for European countries is the standardisation and uniformity of intermodal transport
equipment and operations as well as the regulation of railways. There is also concern regarding the lack
of harmonisation with respect to current technology. In North America, border-crossings, in terms of
more efficient customs and clearance procedures, are paramount if intermodalism is to meet shipper 13

© OECD 2001
Intermodal Freight Transport: Institutional Aspects

and carrier expectations. Outstanding issues concerning the harmonisation of weights and dimensions
and regional taxation regimes have to be addressed. In Japan, issues associated with being an island
nation (e.g. difficulties in negotiating more open and expeditious customs and border procedures with
other countries) are a problem.

Why promote intermodal policies?


Until relatively recently, governments and non-government organisations (NGOs) were
preoccupied with mode-specific approaches to the movement of passengers and freight. In the case
of freight, while the transfer of goods from one mode to another in the process of movement from
origin to destination has always existed, the emphasis on a seamless, efficient transfer has only
recently taken on importance. The advent of globalisation, “just-in-time” approaches to inventory for
the manufacturing and retail sectors, congestion, increasing environmental concerns, scarce resources
and the current trend towards e-business/e-commerce applications are all challenges that the
transportation system is being forced to meet, and each of these challenges has in turn contributed
to the recognition of the need for efficient, effective intermodal transport approaches and
corresponding policies.
The concept of “intermodal” transportation was introduced into the public policy arena in the
late 1970s. European governments recognised the advantages of intermodalism, having promoted
efficient interfaces between passenger transport systems long before the safety aspects and
environmental impacts associated with freight movements became issues of public concern. OECD
Members and governments in other parts of the world have also recognised the need for efficiency
improvements in intermodal transportation and have adopted the principles of efficiency and
sustainability in their legislative frameworks.
Intermodal transportation is at the heart of global trade and provides the arteries through which
freight moves efficiently and cost-effectively across oceans, along coastal and inland waterways, through
ports and terminals, on rail and by highways and roads. Global economic growth and development
could not be sustained without intermodal transport. Most of the world’s export-import trade is moved
by ship – but also by a variety of other modes and equipment between ports and inland destinations.
The volume and value of goods moved are increasing relative to changes in Gross Domestic Product
and in response to the liberalisation of trade. The cost of transportation is decreasing in real terms in
response to global competition among shippers and carriers and advances in technology. With the
projected growth of international trade and global logistics needs, the role of transport will become
even more important in the future.
As global freight transport volumes have increased, the external costs of traffic congestion,
accidents, air pollution and noise have become more apparent, not only as an issue of concern for the
quality of life, but also with respect to their potential for disrupting economic growth and mobility. As a
result, one of the major challenges facing the transportation industry is the need to introduce a more
efficient, modally integrated service which utilises spare capacity in other modes. One of the major
concerns of OECD governments is that unless an efficient, modally integrated service can be achieved,
road transport is likely to increase both its present market share and its external costs. It is becoming
apparent that the policy instruments used for a “business-as-usual” approach cannot solve the future
problems associated with transport. Changes leading to a more systematic and comprehensive
approach are therefore required. Intermodalism is not a silver bullet, but it does present an important
policy tool which can enable this systematic and comprehensive approach to transportation and user-
oriented services.
One of the main objectives in developing intermodal policy is to ensure that the entire freight
distribution network is used as efficiently and effectively as possible. Member countries consider that
this should be done in a manner that supports continued economic growth while at the same time
minimising the impacts of distribution on society and the environment. In this way, a policy for intermodal
transport can support a policy for sustainable development. One prerequisite for such a vision is to
14 ensure that freight can interchange between modes smoothly, efficiently and at least cost – that the

© OECD 2001
Intermodal Transport Challenges

network is seamless and fully integrated. Achieving this goal calls for a regulatory and planning policy
framework which is designed to encourage the development of an integrated freight infrastructure and
ensure a strategic system of intermodal transfer points and intermodal facilities at industry parks.
Better utilisation of railways, ports and shipping services can play a vital role in building a
sustainable freight distribution system. When used effectively, railways and shipping can in many cases
offer a more energy-efficient and less polluting means of freight carriage than road transport. The
transfer of goods from road to alternative modes (modal shift) can also play a part in reducing
congestion and improving safety. If all modes perform well, industry benefits through the provision of
choice, greater competition and potential cost savings, particularly on long-haul and international
journeys. In most instances, intermodal transport policies in Member countries are thus designed to
stimulate:
• Modal shift from road transport to railways, inland waterways, coastal shipping and pipelines.
• An effective and efficient seamless transportation chain, for example by improving interoperability
and the quality of the interfaces.
In order to achieve these objectives, policies cannot be aimed at the transport infrastructure or
logistic service providers alone. They also need to address factors influencing the choices made by
shippers and various governmental organisations, particularly where those factors arise from inefficiencies
elsewhere in the transport system.
The benefits of intermodalism are considered as significant and offer the promise of:
• Lowering overall transportation costs by allowing each mode to be used for that portion of the
trip to which it is best suited.
• Increasing economic productivity and efficiency, thereby enhancing the nation’s global
competitiveness.
• Reducing congestion and the burden on over-stressed infrastructure investments.
• Reducing energy consumption and contributing to improved air quality and environmental
conditions.
Before assessing the policies and organisational structures of Member countries, an effort was
made to assess the share of intermodalism in total transport activities and to identify specific problems
in OECD countries.

Measuring the extent of intermodalism


Both quantitative and qualitative indicators should be considered in any assessment of the
current share of intermodalism. While quantitative indicators may provide a more objective picture,
not all countries appeared to be in a position to readily supply the required data. To achieve true
comparability among Member countries, data would need to be harmonised. However, as a first step, in
an effort to minimise both data compilation and the reporting burden, a very simple set of quantitative
indicators were collected.

Quantitative performance indicators


The following indicators were used by Member countries to monitor developments in intermodal
freight transport:
• Tonnes lifted by rail.
• Tonne-kilometres moved by rail.
• Tonnes lifted by inland shipping.
• Tonne-kilometres moved by inland shipping.
• Tonne-kilometres moved by coastal shipping.
• Tonnes lifted by maritime shipping. 15

© OECD 2001
Intermodal Freight Transport: Institutional Aspects

• Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) by rail.


• TEUs by inland shipping.
• TEUs by coastal shipping.
• TEUs by maritime shipping.
Specific data were received from five countries: Canada, the Czech Republic, Japan, the
Netherlands and the United Kingdom. In addition, the European Commission provided key statistical
data relating to intermodal transport. These indicators relate to individual modes and do not consider
the transport chain as a whole.

Table 1. Intermodal transport in the Netherlands


Defined as the share of container transport in total transport (domestic and international)

1986 1995 1996 1997

% inter- % inter- % inter- % inter-


Tonnes Tonnes Tonnes Tonnes
modal modal modal modal

Total (domestic/international)
Tonnes road (millions) 456 545 547 3 573 7
Tonnes rail (millions) 19 17 16 21 19 24
Tonnes inland shipping (millions) 238 228 237 3 250 4
Tonnes deep sea (millions) 195 209 203 14 212 15
Tonnes short sea (millions) 127 134 152 9 163 9
Tonnes pipeline (millions) 39 52 58 – 63 –
Sub-total 1 074 1 185 1 213 6 1 280 8
TEUs TEUs TEUs TEUs

TEUs (domestic + international)


TEUs road (‘000) 3 478 3 659
TEUs rail (‘000) n.a. n.a. 348 407
TEUs inland shipping (‘000) n.a. n.a. 787 858
TEUs short sea 862 1 486 1 618
TEUs deep sea 1 420 2 879 3 162

Notes: n.a.: not available. Tonnes: metric tonnes. Tonnes rail: the total weight of goods lifted by rail during the given year. Tonnes inland shipping:
the total weight of goods lifted by inland shipping. Tonnes short sea shipping: transport over sea between the Netherlands and European
countries. Tonnes deep sea: international transport over sea to countries outside Europe. Tonnes pipeline: total tonnes per pipeline. Per-
centage intermodal rail: the total weight of unitised goods lifted expressed as a percentage of the total of goods lifted by rail. Percentage
intermodal deep sea maritime: total of all container expressed as a percentage of total maritime traffic. Percentage intermodal inland ship-
ping: the total weight of unitised maritime goods lifted expressed as a percentage of the total of goods lifted by inland shipping. TEUs loaded
rail/inland shipping: number of loaded TEUs transported by rail/inland shipping. International: import, export and throughput through
the Netherlands. Domesestination within the Netherlands.
Source: Verkeer Economische Verkenningen, 1998-2003; Beleidseffect Rapportage, 1998. Further details on these intermodal volumes are provided in Annex.

It is difficult to reach any substantive conclusions regarding intermodal transport statistics in OECD
countries based on the information provided. In part, this is due to the paucity of data. It is also due to
the use of different definitions. For example, the Japanese statistics do not include international
maritime freight. Canada’s figures only include containerised freight. The EU figures report tonne-
kilometres moved. It is clear that geographical differences will be a significant factor in understanding
the role of intermodal transport. Island countries such as the United Kingdom and Japan can be
expected to have a high proportion of international intermodal traffic, invariably by sea. In comparison,
the Netherlands, while part of mainland Europe, has a river and canal system capable of handling
16 modern transport requirements.

© OECD 2001
Intermodal Transport Challenges

Table 2. Intermodal transport in Canada

1986 1994 1995 1996 1997

% inter- % inter- % inter- % inter- % inter-


Tonnes Tonnes Tonnes Tonnes Tonnes
modal modal modal modal modal

Tonnes rail (millions) 244 2.5 273 3.2 275 3.1 275 3.4 293 3.4
Tonnes maritime (millions)
267 3.9 299 5.1 310 5.2 309 5.7 330 6.0
TEUs TEUs TEUs TEUs TEUs

TEUs rail (‘000) n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a.


TEUs maritime (‘000) 876 1 404 1 385 1 509 1 672
Proportion intermodal (%) 6.5 8.3 8.3 9.1 9.4

Notes: n.a.: not available. Tonnes: metric tonnes. Tonnes rail: total domestic and transborder (Canada/US) rail tonnage. Tonnes maritime: total
coastal and international cargo handled. % intermodal: for rail, the share of total rail tonnage originating from/destined to Canadian port facili-
ties. For maritime, maritime containerised tonnage as a share of total maritime tonnage handled. Proportion intermodal: the sum of rail
and maritime proportions. Includes double counts as most of the rail intermodal tonnage is also counted in the maritime sector.
Source: Transport Canada, Statistics Canada.

Table 3. Intermodal transport in the Czech Republic


1986 1994 1995 1996 1997

% inter- % inter- % inter- % inter- % inter-


Tonnes Tonnes Tonnes Tonnes Tonnes
modal modal modal modal modal

Tonnes rail (millions) 297 n.a. 110 0.98 109 1.98 107 3.69 111 4.21
Tonnes inland waterways (millions) 14.21 n.a. 4.94 0.24 4.38 0.55 3.18 0.57 1.75 0.98

TEUs TEUs TEUs TEUs

TEUs rail (‘000) 453 130 140 172 174


TEUs marine (‘000) n.a. 0.99 1.9 1.5 1.51
Proportion intermodal (%) n.a. 0.14 0.31 0.50 0.74
Proportion intermodal* (%) n.a. 0.94 1.92 3.61 4.18

Note: 1986 data relate to Czechoslovakia (not just the Czech Republic).
n.a.: not available. Tonnes: metric tonnes. Tonnes rail: total domestic and interstate rail tonnage. Tonnes inland waterways: total inland water-
ways cargo handled. % intermodal: for rail, the proportion of total rail tonnage; for inland waterways, the proportion of total inland waterways
tonnage handled. Proportion intermodal:* a weighted average of percentage intermodal in relation to total tonnes lifted (including only rail
and inland waterway transport; excluding road transport).
Source: Transport Annual Report.

At first glance, it would appear that the trends (over the period 1986-97) observed for Canada,
Japan, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom differ significantly:
• In the Netherlands, tonnages for both rail and inland shipping increased significantly. However,
the proportion of intermodal transport, as measured by containerised shipments, remained
stable. In Canada, both tonnage (rail and maritime) and the proportion of intermodal transport
increased from a total of 6.5% in 1986 to 9.4% in 1997.
• In the Czech Republic, tonnages have fallen.
• In the United Kingdom, maritime tonnage has increased. Over the same period, the tonnage
carried by rail initially fell but is now recovering. While the tonnage carried by inland shipping
fell slightly, its contribution to intermodal transport rose. For the years for which figures are
available, the proportion of UK intermodal transport is approximately 20%, reflecting in part the
significance of maritime-related intermodal transport for an island country. 17

© OECD 2001
Intermodal Freight Transport: Institutional Aspects

Table 4. Intermodal freight transport in the United Kingdom

1986 1994 1995 1996 1997

% inter- % inter- % inter- % inter- % inter-


Tonnes Tonnes Tonnes Tonnes Tonnes
modal modal modal modal modal

Tonnes rail (millions) 138 n.a. 97 n.a. 101 n.a. 102 12 105 13
Tonnes maritime (millions) 453 13 519 19 532 20 536 21 542 22
Tonnes inland shipping (millions) 68 8 62 12 61 13 57 13 58 14

TEUs TEUs TEUs TEUs TEUs

TEUs rail (‘000) n.a. n.a. n.a. 720 n.a.


TEUs maritime (‘000) 4 730 7 420 7 970 8 230 8 980
TEUs inland shipping (‘000) n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a. n.a.
Proportion intermodal of total
tonnes (%) n.a. n.a. n.a. 19.3 20

Notes: n.a.: not available. Tonnes: metric tonnes. Tonnes rail: the total weight of goods lifted by rail. This includes all domestic traffic and,
in the figures for 1994-97 (inclusive), traffic through the Channel Tunnel (excluding Eurotunnel shuttle services). Tonnes maritime: all port traf-
fic and Eurotunnel shuttle services (combined transport). This total includes some double counting since UK coastal shipping traffic (i.e. port
to port) is counted at each port. Tonnes inland shipping: the total weight of goods lifted by internal, coastal shipping, foreign boats entering
UK inland waters and one port dedicated flow). Percentage intermodal rail: the total weight of unitised goods lifted that is destined for import
or export via a rail connected port facility or the Channel Tunnel, expressed as a percentage of the total of goods lifted by rail. Percentage
intermodal maritime: total of all container and ro-ro traffic expressed as a percentage of total maritime traffic. Percentage intermodal inland
shipping: the total weight of unitised maritime goods lifted expressed as a percentage of the total of goods lifted by inland shipping. TEUs
maritime: the figure is not wholly representative of total TEUs. It represents total containers and road goods vehicles including trailers. Pro-
portion intermodal: a weighted average of percentage intermodal in relation to total tonnes lifted (tonnes rail (TR) x % intermodal + tonnes
maritime (TM) x % intermodal + tonnes inland shipping (TS) x % intermodal/sum TR,TM,TS).
Source: Transport Statistics Great Britain 1999; Transport Statistics Great Britain 1994, Intermodal Freight Transport – Key Statistical Data 1992-1997; Waterborne
Freight in the United Kingdom (Transport Statistics Bulletin DETR).

Table 5. Intermodal transport in Japan

1986 1994 1995 1996 1997

% inter- % inter- % inter- % inter- % inter-


Tonnes Tonnes Tonnes Tonnes Tonnes
modal modal modal modal modal

Tonne rail (millions) 87.2 2 78.9 1 76.9 1 73.6 1 69.2 1


Tonne coastal shipping (millions) 440.7 8 555.8 9 548.5 8 546.9 8 541.4 8

TEUs TEUs TEUs TEUs TEUs

TEUs rail (‘000) 4 698 4 251 4 143 3 961 3 728


TEUs coastal shipping (‘000) 23 731 29 928 29 539 29 451 29 157
Proportion intermodal (%) 9.6 9.8 9.5 9.1 9.1

Notes: The term “tonnes” means the volume lifted by each mode. Therefore, when one door-to-door freight transport movement includes both rail and
truck segments, the freight volume is counted on both rail and truck modes and total freight tonnages are counted twice for such movements.
1. The figures relate only to domestic freight volume.
2. Figures include both bulk and container movements.
3. They include both unimodal transport and intermodal transport.
4. The figure in terms of TEUs is the quotient obtained by dividing total freight volumes by 18.5 tonnes per TEU; it does not mean the equivalent
numbers of freight containers.
Source: Japanese Ministry of Transportation.

• In Japan, over the same period, tonnage related to rail decreased, while coastal shipping
volumes increased from 23 731 TEUs to 29 157 TEUs. But, the proportion of intermodal shipments
declined slightly, from 9.6% in 1986 to 9.1% in 1997.

• The number of TEUs in both the Netherlands and Japan followed the same trends as tonnage
18 figures, because the TEUs calculation is based on tonnages.

© OECD 2001
Intermodal Transport Challenges

Table 6. EU Intermodal freight transport

Total EU transport traffic (billion tkm, 1996) 2 640


Road 1.16 (44%)
Rail 0.21 (8%)
Inland waterway 0.11 (4%)
Sea (intra-EU) 1.08 (41%)
Pipeline 0.08 (3%)
Total goods transport growth (1970-96) 2.6% per year
Total unitised traffic (million TEU, 1996) n.a.
By EU railways 8.2
On inland waterways 2
On roads n.a.
By sea (containers loaded/unloaded in ports) 30.5
Total unitised traffic (million tonnes, 1996) n.a.
By EU railways 140/145
By air (major EU airports traffic) 7.6
On inland waterways n.a.
On roads n.a.
By sea (containers loaded/unloaded in ports) 240
Total unitised traffic (million tkm, 1996) n.a.
Rail 53.7
Road n.a.
Inland waterway 4.7
Total unitised traffic growth (1994-96, UIRR1 members) 31% (tonnes)
Unitised traffic (% total tkm, by mode) n.a.
Rail 30%
Inland waterway n.a.
Road n.a.
Air > 90%
Inland traffic of maritime containers (million TEU, 1996) 21.3
Rail 16.9%
Inland waterway 8.9%
Road 73.2%
Rail-sea (bi-modal) traffic 8 824 wagons
Road-sea (bi-modal) traffic 12 254 trucks

1. UIRR: International Union of Combined Road-Rail Transport Companies.


Source: Eurostat, UIC, UIRR, ICF, Sofres estimates, DGVII.

• The intermodal data provided by Canada includes significant double counts, as a very large
proportion of the containerised tonnage is counted in both the rail and maritime figures.
The “total maritime” data submitted by each country is different. Thus the ratios indicating
proportions of intermodal tonnage in maritime shipping are not defined consistently. Because of the
differences in the maritime data, the shares of intermodal traffic, in total, are also not comparable.
In the European Union (EU), unitised rail transport amounted to TEU 8 million in 1996. The total
amount of unitised transport in that year was estimated at 140–145 million tonnes and 50 billion tonne-
kilometres. The 31.2 million TEUs loaded and unloaded represented approximately 14% of the cargo
handled in EU ports in 1996. Unitised transport on inland waterways accounted for around 2 million
TEUs. The European Commission concluded that “the construction of intermodal transport statistics
(according to the transport chain definition) raises a difficult conceptual problem because every single
consignment is shipped by a specific transport chain”.1

1. Eurostat (1999), “Executive Summary”, Intermodal Freight Transport: Key Statistical Data 1992-1997, Luxembourg. 19

© OECD 2001
Intermodal Freight Transport: Institutional Aspects

Nevertheless, the picture emerges that the share of intermodal transport appears generally to be
below 10% of total freight transport in countries without substantial maritime trade.

Qualitative performance indicators


A number of qualitative indicators specifically relating to freight transport were also submitted for
consideration by Member countries. These included:
• Identification of capacity enhancements.
• Development of methods to measure congestion relief.
• Improvements in condition of infrastructure.
• Connectivity.
• Carrier dependability, speed and timeliness.
• Delivery flexibility.
• Reduction of operational restrictions on carriers.
• Increased safety and security of cargo movements.
• Provision of adequate infrastructure and facilities.
The Working Group noted that some of these proposed indicators related to capacity (a
quantitative indicator), while others aimed to assess intermodal performance. Many contributors also
highlighted problems associated with system reliability. The Sub-group on Benchmarking, which is
undertaking the second stage of this project, will deal with the issues relating to indicators generally
and address the indicators outlined above in more detail.

Specific problems concerning intermodal transport


While recognising the advantages of an efficient, effective and seamless intermodal transport
system, most Member countries have not yet achieved this goal. Until recently, both governments and
NGOs have tended to focus on mode-specific approaches and solutions to transportation issues. As a
result, numerous cross-border problems have surfaced as regions and continents turn towards an
integrated transport system. Standardisation of infrastructure, and harmonisation of legislative and
regulatory requirements, are primary obstacles in Europe, North America and Asia. While there has
been significant progress, in particular in the European Union, with respect to customs and immigration
procedures, a number of problems remain in North America and the Pacific Rim.

Europe
In some European countries, significant obstacles to efficient intermodal transport are the lack of low
cost terminals; the need for specialised transport equipment; and regulation of the railways. To remedy
this situation, some countries are considering allowing imports of terminal equipment and specialised
rolling stock for intermodal transport free of customs duties and other import restrictions and fees.
However, the European countries are in some cases limited by EU legislation in the actions they can take.
Specific problems raised by participants in the institutional aspects project include:
• Switzerland identified the need for better infrastructure, improved quality of rail services and more
efficient pricing by mode.
• In Italy, it appears that the large number of bodies involved in the decision process creates
obstacles to intermodal transport.
• Finland is encountering problems because transport operators use non-standard technical
systems and have different labour practices. Friction costs are high because of lack of
interconnectivity at the infrastructure level, the operations level and at the mode-dependent
services and regulations level. In addition, because of the country’s geography, intermodal
20 transport is limited in Finland.

© OECD 2001
Intermodal Transport Challenges

• Similar geographical limits apply to Norway, where road transport is favoured. There is a need for
increased capacity for freight on rail, larger profiles in rail tunnels and more efficient terminals. In
addition, the Norwegian maritime sector would benefit from better co-operation between ports
and the concentration of traffic to selected ports in order to increase the frequency of arrivals. In
addition, the EU Fourth framework project SCANDINET found that short- and long-distance
intermodal transport services are currently not satisfactorily integrated in Scandinavia.
• The United Kingdom wishes to see the removal of border-crossing delays, and advocates better
transport access by operators to transport markets. It supports the liberalisation initiatives of the
European Commission. The United Kingdom also faces domestic problems which can arise when
rail freight has to share routes with passenger rail transport.
• In the Netherlands, a recent project in which the logistic chain of some 100 shippers was
investigated to assess the prospects for modal shift showed that a number of possibilities exist
for intermodal transport. The project found that 80% of the goods flows investigated could change
to intermodal transport for the same price (or even cheaper) while the service level remains the
same. However, many shippers are unaware of the opportunities offered by intermodal transport.
The European Commission advocates greater liberalisation of the rail sector, which would lead to
increased quality in service standards. The Commission believes that improvements are needed with
respect to: interoperability between wagons used by different carriers; standardisation of electricity
supply, railway gauge and infrastructure; access to the Trans-European Rail Freight Network; and
uniformity in the intermodal liability regime.

North America
The following issues were raised in the North American context:
• Problems concerning customs and border procedures.
• Harmonisation of weights and dimensions.
• Standardisation of equipment and the need for improved equipment (e.g. reinforced trailers to
reduce structural damage during intermodal transfer).
• Labour issues in terms of agreements between carriers (e.g. the requirement to change train
crews when equipment crosses North American borders).
• Improved use of EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) and ITS (Intelligent Transport Systems)
technology.
• The need for more strategically located intermodal terminals and facilities.

Japan and the Asia-Pacific region


Many of the problems identified in Europe and North America also apply to Member countries in
Asia. The following issues were identified in the case of Japan:
• Disproportionately high land costs.
• Corridor development issues between domestic regions.
• Constraints associated with establishing new businesses.
• Issues associated with being an island nation (e.g. difficulties in negotiating more open customs
and border procedures with other countries).
• Need for specialist regional intermodal facilities.
With respect to institutional aspects, few of the highlighted problems related to governmental
organisation. However, the question arises whether institutional problems in the regulation of the
specific modes and reported shortcomings in infrastructure might be seen as a reflection of prevailing
structures within the governmental organisation. Structures need to be strongly focused on promoting
the required intermodal changes and solutions. Otherwise, they can appear to be an impediment to
change. 21

© OECD 2001
Chapter 3
POLICIES, ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURES AND INSTRUMENTS:
AN OVERVIEW

Introduction
The extent to which countries focus on intermodal freight as a means of enhancing overall freight
transport can be derived from the role which intermodal transport plays in their general transport policy
frameworks, as well as in their organisational structures. With policies established, and organisational
structures modified to administer these policies, countries may then develop, or adopt previously
developed, policy instruments as a means of executing initiatives in furtherance of these policies.
A number of broad instruments have been identified by Member countries, such as legislative and
regulatory instruments, subsidies, research and development programmes and international
agreements. In North America and Europe, significant effort is being placed on harmonisation of
standards in areas such as weights and dimensions, and customs and immigration procedures. Eastern
European countries have enacted a number of agreements related to intermodal transport with their
neighbours. In addition, the use of direct and indirect subsidies to encourage intermodalism is an
often-used approach. Within the framework of its “Comprehensive Programme of Logistics Policies”
(CPLP), Japan aims to provide one of the most convenient and attractive logistics services in the Asian-
Pacific region, to reduce transport costs and to address negative externalities. Significant public and
private sector research and development programmes are in place throughout the OECD.
This chapter summarises the intermodal freight policies of contributing OECD Member countries,
the organisational elements established to administer these policies, and the policy instruments, or
tools, designed to carry out these policies. It describes the organisational structures and policies of the
countries that participated in the study, and places each country’s organisational structure and policies
in perspective with those of other countries in their region. This summary is followed by a more
comprehensive review of these points, in the individual country contributions in Chapter 4.

Intermodal policy statements

Of the 28 OECD countries included in this review, 26 have either an explicit or an implicit policy or set
of policies in place to promote intermodal freight transport.
Intermodal transport is encouraged by governments in various ways. In some countries, there is an
explicit policy on intermodal transport, demonstrated in formal policy documents, either specifically on
intermodal transport or as part of wider (freight) transport policy papers. For example, the Netherlands has a
specific document (Transport in Balance), but is now switching towards intermodal transport as part of an
integrated and sustainable freight transport system. The United Kingdom considers intermodal transport as
part of its overall integrated freight policy (Sustainable Distribution: A Strategy). In other countries, there is no
specific explicit policy, or at least not explicitly laid down in formal policy papers. In some cases, the policy is
mainly aimed at individual modes rather than at the intermodal chain as a whole.
The German, French and Dutch governments have translated their ambitions with respect to the
development of intermodal transport into explicit objectives, taken up in formal policy papers
(Table 7). These objectives are specifically aimed at encouraging growth in intermodal transport. 23

© OECD 2001
Intermodal Freight Transport: Institutional Aspects

Table 7. Explicit objectives of national governments with respect to intermodal transport

Austria Contribute to a sustainable transport system


Belgium None
Canada Facilitate the growth of intermodalism
Czech Republic None
France Double 1993 volume of intermodal freight (in million tonnes) by 2002
Germany Triple 1994 volume of intermodal freight (30 million tonnes) to 90 million tonnes in 2010
Italy None
Netherlands Achieve a modal shift of 50 million tonnes (20 to rail, 20 to inland shipping and 10 to short sea)
in the period 1994-2010
Spain None
Sweden No longer any explicit intermodal target
Switzerland Shift long-distance transport from road to rail
United Kingdom Contribute to a sustainable transport system
United States Contribute to transport efficiency; reduce transport share in GDP

Although this is not the case in the other countries mentioned in Table 7, this does not imply that those
countries do not pursue a policy aimed at developing intermodal transport.
The need for intermodal transport differs among Member countries, and is influenced by their
geography and demographic structure. For example, in sparsely populated Scandinavia, the need for
intermodal transport is not as urgent as in some very densely populated regions, or in economies that
serve mainly as a transit country, such as Switzerland.
Few responding countries reported that they had no specific policy declarations to promote
intermodal transport and no intention of enacting intermodal policy guidance.
In all cases, emphasis on intermodal freight is a recent phenomenon, with few specific references
to policies or programmes existing prior to 1990. For the 26 countries with intermodal policies, these are
categorised as either mode-specific or non-mode-specific; that is, intermodal policies may be enacted
and applied to individual modes of freight transport, or may refer to intermodal initiatives, such as
regional or continental intermodal networks or other common concerns of intermodalism.
Mode-specific policies are more commonly used in countries with a low population density or with
geographical constraints, such as are found in Scandinavia. Countries in Eastern Europe are also
primarily focused on developing policies which, through their influence on specific modes, are
expected to have a positive impact on intermodalism. Canada actively encourages the growth of
intermodal transport through the facilitation of market forces, and government focus from the point of
policy development continues to be primarily mode-specific.
Non-mode-specific policies are found in many of the countries which come under the umbrella of
the European Commission. In some cases, countries have intermodal units that are charged with the
legislative and regulatory functions concerning intermodal transport. The United States also has an
active intermodal unit that considers non-mode-specific policies and approaches. In Japan, intermodal
freight policies are embedded within the framework of the “Comprehensive Programme of Logistics
Policies” (CPLP).
Policy initiatives vary considerably in scope, intent and form. Those characterised as explicit in
form generally encourage broadbased programme development, co-ordinated planning among
transport modes, and focused intermodal research and development. They may address regulatory
review and analysis of financial instruments, including cross subsidy analysis and cost allocation. These
policies may also call for linkage of freight transport policy with other governmental concerns,
principally energy conservation; optimisation of existing transport facilities, in lieu of adding capacity;
environmental and community preservation; and public safety. Countries with implicit intermodal
freight policies typically cite a series of tasks focusing on some aspect of intermodalism. These may be
consolidated under an overarching intermodal freight directive. More often, they may also appear as
24 discrete intermodal tasks incorporated within single-mode programmes, often without any direct

© OECD 2001
Policies, Organisational Structures and Instruments: An Overview

mechanism for co-ordination. In these cases, the overarching intermodal policy must be derived
through compilation and examination of individual work tasks.
Intermodal policy making is aimed at improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the door-to-
door integrated transport chain. While the key driving forces for promoting intermodal transport differ
among countries and over time, the primary goals centre on improving the efficiency and effectiveness
of transport systems and infrastructure, environmental concerns and the promotion of operations
business efficiency.
As a key prerequisite for effective intermodal transport is the adequate performance of individual
modes, it is not surprising that the modal approach to policy making continues to dominate in Member
countries. However, it would appear that additional approaches and measures specifically directed
towards intermodalism need to be applied if a truly effective integrated transport chain is to be
achieved.

Organisational structures

Only a few of the contributing countries have specific intermodal transport units within their
transport organisations. These separately established units may be mandated to perform staff functions
or may actually be line organisational units. Staff intermodal units typically perform a co-ordinating or
advisory function. Line units may exercise programme management, budget and legislative
development functions, in addition to providing a co-ordination or advisory role. Line functions
typically require programme support, which may or may not be called for in the intermodal freight
policy and its supporting instruments. In instances where policies call for establishment of intermodal
units within line agencies, with appropriate budgetary and staff support, the focus on intermodalism is
expected to be more effective than in the absence of these elements. Overall, it appears that countries
with dedicated intermodal units have more explicit and focused intermodal policies than those with
purely mono-modal approaches.
More generally, contributing countries have incorporated intermodalism as a distributed function,
by either expanding the scope of existing modal units or creating new units within existing modal
organisations. For those that have expanded the scope of existing units, intermodal staffing may be
limited to collateral duties for existing staff or may include limited staff expansion. For those that have
created new units, staff are generally assigned to work full time on intermodal transport issues.
Intermodal focus in Member countries appears to be confined to: i) national transport
organisations; and ii) non-governmental organisations (NGOs) with an interest in intermodal freight.
Although national transport agencies remain charged with intermodal programme development and
implementation, NGOs, such as organisations of (private) terminal operators, may assume an advocacy
role, providing support to national transport agencies in promoting intermodalism. They may also assist
in the development of regional and local policies promoting intermodalism and provide a point of
contact for government agencies at all levels with an interest in intermodalism. Among the contributing
countries, there was little mention of regional intermodal policies, although some regional and local
transport agency interest was referenced in examining intermodal options.

Instruments
OECD Member countries use a variety of instruments to implement intermodal policies. These
include regulatory and legislative initiatives, subsidies, and research and development.

Legislation and regulations


Varying levels of legislative and regulatory instruments are in place across Member countries to
encourage and implement intermodal activity. In Europe, countries tend to favour regulations related to
vehicle weights and dimensions. These initiatives encourage intermodal transport by allowing
increased loads and driving time. 25

© OECD 2001
Intermodal Freight Transport: Institutional Aspects

Table 8. Legislation and regulations favouring intermodal transport, 1997

G A CH NL S F UK I B US CZ

Max. gross weight of road vehicles


(tonnes) 40 401 28 50 40 40 38 44 44 40 48
Exemption for 44-tonne vehicles,
provided they are used
for intermodal transport yes yes yes – yes yes yes – – no –
Driving ban for lorries on certain
2
days or at certain times yes yes yes no yes yes no yes no no yes
Exemption for vehicles used
for intermodal transport yes yes no – no no – no – – yes

1. The maximum gross weight of road vehicles in Austria is generally 38 tonnes; however, for vehicles registered in the EU, it is 40 tonnes.
2. Only in London at night.
G = Germany, A = Austria, CH = Switzerland, NL = the Netherlands, S = Spain, F = France, UK = United Kingdom, I = Italy, B = Belgium, US = United States,
CZ = Czech Republic.

Users of combined transport may be exempted from bilateral contingents and similar restrictions
for foreign transport operators. These operators may also be granted additional bilateral transport
licences as a reward. In some countries, e.g. Austria, an extensive system of political and legislative
measures is in place to promote combined transport, ranging from financial aid for the construction of
terminals to the purchase of specialised rolling stock. In Eastern Europe, many countries have signed
bilateral agreements that encourage the use of combined transport. Countries such as the Netherlands
have specific objectives in terms of the encouragement and growth of this component.
In North America, the primary approach is to facilitate development of intermodal activity through
market forces, and to enhance competitiveness with policies such as deregulation and privatisation.
Governments are also facilitating freight flows through approaches aimed, among others, at reducing
intra-metropolitan congestion and associated transaction costs. Significant effort is targeted to the
harmonisation of weights and dimensions across the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
countries, and the standardisation of customs and immigration procedures.
Japan favours measures that, through deregulation and the provision of alternative transport
modes, eliminate infrastructure bottlenecks and lead to sophisticated logistics systems and the use of
advanced technology.

Subsidies

Both direct and indirect subsidies are used to encourage intermodal transport. In some instances,
national governments provide direct financial support to intermodal transport. This can be in the form
of financial backing to the private sector for the construction of terminals, the purchase of intermodal
loading units or the reimbursement of operating deficits for intermodal rail transport. In most Member
countries, taxes and road usage fees of some form or another are applied to commercial road transport
because commercial road vehicles use the highway network frequently and over very large distances.
Intermodal transport is a less-intensive user of road infrastructure, an argument which is sometimes
used to justify the development of pricing schemes which exempt intermodal transport from the taxes
and fees directed to heavy and long-distance road use.

Research and development

While transport-related research and industry groups exist in a number of Member countries, few
are specific to intermodal transport. Research and development organisations include government
26 agencies, educational institutions and public-private groups.

© OECD 2001
Policies, Organisational Structures and Instruments: An Overview

Educational institutions and other research institutes often work in collaboration with government,
assist government inquiries into specific transport problems and are engaged in the preparation and
evaluation of policy options. Research conducted by universities on transportation can have a strong
influence on policy makers. Areas of study include the optimisation of terminals, transport economics
and logistics. There is also a growing interest in ITS and other technologies.
Industry groups often provide a forum for communication between transportation professionals
from the private and public sectors.

27

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Chapter 4
NATIONAL POLICIES AND ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURES

Introduction
The following chapter addresses the policies, organisational structures and instruments of some
16 OECD countries that participated in this study. Annex provides more detailed information on the
Netherlands, the United Kingdom, the European Union, the United States and Japan.1

Austria
In recognition of the vital role played by combined transport in Austrian transport policy, in
particular by providing environment-friendly alternatives to pure road transport, a number of measures
have been introduced to support this policy. These measures include financial incentives as well as a
range of political and legislative measures for the promotion of combined transport. Financial support
for investments in combined transport may be granted under the programme for the promotion of
combined freight transport by road, rail and inland waterways, which aims at transferring freight
transport from road to environment-friendly modes of transport. The programme, originally introduced
in 1992, was recently prolonged from 1999 to the end of 2002. Eligible projects include, among others,
combined transport terminals, loading equipment, cranes, containers, swap bodies and innovative
technologies (new loading techniques, logistics) for improving combined transport. Austria has also
provided related financial investment support to a number of countries in the region and is in the
process of introducing and improving information systems for intermodal transport.
Certain combined transport operations are considered to be of public interest and as such are
ordered and remunerated. Furthermore, fiscal incentives are provided for combined transport operations.
While road transport is subject to various restrictions (such as licences for non-EU vehicles, the
ecopoint system for transit through Austria for EU vehicles, driving bans at weekends and driving bans
for noisy trucks at night), combined transport enjoys wide exemptions from most of these limitations.
Examples of regulatory measures in support of combined transport payload adjustment (higher
payloads for initial and terminal combined transport hauls than for road transport in general) include
liberalised corridors for rolling roads, specific exemptions from driving bans at weekends and at night,
and supplementary permits for using combined transport.
The organisational structure of the Austrian Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and
Technology is based on subject matter and modal division. Sections include Transport Policy and
Planning, Inland Transport, Road Administration, Aviation, Telecommunications and Innovation and
Technology.

Canada
Canada is currently in the process of defining specific policies to promote intermodal transport and
Intelligent Transportation Systems. This is in line with Canada’s National Transportation Policy which
states that a system that makes best use of all available modes of transportation at the lowest total cost

1. For other European countries, some useful information may be found in the ECMT Report “Report on the Current
State of Combined Transport in Europe” (OECD, 1998) 29

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is essential to serve the transportation needs of shippers and travellers. The approach to date has been
to facilitate intermodal activity, primarily by making it as easy as possible for the marketplace to
operate. Policy interventions have generally been mode-specific; however, it is recognised that
intermodal transport has the potential to reduce the total cost of transportation and increase the
efficiency and productivity of the transportation system. Good integration can increase capacity and
reduce congestion and environmental impacts.
Canada’s intermodal vision started with implementation of the National Transportation Act – 1967.
Clarification of this vision continued under the new Canada Transportation Act – 1996.
The organisational structures of both Transport Canada (the Department responsible for
transportation matters in Canada), and the Canadian Transportation Agency (a quasi-judicial body
which handles stakeholder issues) have evolved in a direction which facilitates intermodal approaches.
Previously, the Departmental structure was organised along modal lines. Transport Canada’s divisions
are now organised along the lines of the Department’s principal objectives: safety and security; policy
development; and setting/maintaining national programmes.2 The Policy Group, which is responsible
for modal policy development and decision making, is partially divided along modal lines: Marine,
Surface (rail, motor carrier, highways, bus), and Air. The Evaluation and Economic Analysis directorates
are multimodal. There is no specific office dedicated to intermodal transport; however, all of the modal
directorates are involved in intermodal issues. The Department works closely with a number of other
federal and provincial departments and agencies, e.g. Natural Resources; Environment; Finance;
Industry, Trade and Commerce; and External Affairs, among others. A separate federal body (the
Transportation Safety Board) deals with safety issues, including accident investigation, for all modes.
The Canadian Transportation Agency is tasked with a more legislative role, and acts as a quasi-judicial
body in matters of dispute between carriers and shippers.
A number of national and regional organisations promote and discuss intermodal transport. The
Transportation Association of Canada (TAC) has public and private sector members who discuss
transportation issues while offering technical excellence in surface transportation infrastructure. The
Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA) is a public sector organisation that
co-ordinates the administration, regulation and control of motor vehicles. There are also two regional
organisations, the Atlantic Provinces Transportation Commission (APTC) and the Western Transportation
Advisory Council (WESTAC), which provide information, analysis and a forum for discussion on
transportation issues. All freight carriers in Canada are owned and operated by the private sector.
The future of intermodalism is dictated by market considerations, and the Department is
committed to facilitating market-based responses to demand for intermodal services. To this end,
Transport Canada is involved in the development of ITS programmes, research and development which
would lead to improved intermodal activity, and a number of Millennium conferences which are
intended to bring together all transportation stakeholders and shippers.

Czech Republic

The Department for Public Transport plays a key role in matters of intermodal transport. The
principal activity of this Department is the creation of conditions to e nsu re the suppo rt,
development and realisation of public passenger transport and combined transport systems in
relation to international agreements. There are five major private sector operators of combined
transport in the Czech Republic. Since 1993, the government has not been involved in the
management of these companies. The national railway authority – Czech Railways – has an interest
in only one operator – Bohemiakombi LtD.
The principal programme in the intermodal transport area is headed: “System support of combined
transport development in the Czech Republic in 1999-2000/2005”. This initiative aims to ensure a partial

2. Minister’s office, Policy, Communications, Programs and Divestiture, Safety and Security, Corporate Services and
30 Regional Offices.

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transfer of road freight transport to rail and water modes of transport, which are more environment-
friendly. Key goals include:
• Creation of an information system for electronic exchange and data transfer on freight transport
for combined transport.
• Creation and implementation of UN/EDIFACT form.
• Development of a decision support system for intensified utilisation of combined transport.
• Investigation of infrastructure conditions of combined and integrated transport from the
standpoint of wider exploitation in transport and logistic systems.
• Research related to changes in the vehicle-fleet needed for combined transport use.
Research activities related to intermodal transport over the period 1995-99 were financed through
the Czech Ministry of Transport and Communications. Private organisations rarely participate in
research activities, except when the research programme covers their respective areas of activity.
Since 1996, the state administration has contributed significant funding for a range of transport and
intermodal projects, including to the Czech Railways for the construction of the Ro-La terminal at
Lovosice, the Lovosice-Dresden rolling motorway line, special railway wagons and the modification of
vessels for combined transport. In 1998-2000, the Ministry of Transport plans to provide CZK 941 million
in support of combined transport. Projects eligible for support include the purchase of railway wagons,
a 30% state contribution to the purchase of swap bodies and lifting equipment and operating support
for unaccompanied transport, and indirect investment support for the modernisation of national rail
corridors I and II.
Indirect support for combined transport is provided in the form of:
• Exemptions from road tax law (16/1993) for road vehicles linked up with combined transport.
• Exemptions from driving bans during holidays for road vehicles linked up with combined
transport.
• Exemptions from Sunday or weekend driving bans for combined transport pick-up and delivery
operations.
• Bilateral agreements with a number of countries in relation to exemptions for combined transport.

Finland
In Finland, transportation falls under the responsibility of the Ministry of Transport and
Communications. The Goods Transport Unit deals primarily with intermodal transport, while the Vehicle
and Environment Unit handles environmental issues.
The Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communications boasts a very active research and
development programme. Research focuses on promoting integration between different transport
modes and on increasing operational efficiency, e.g. transport telematics and organisational measures.
The Ministry of Transport and Communications has, together with the Technology Development Centre,
initiated two research and development programmes: TETRA and KETJU. TETRA is a three-year
programme dealing with the development of ITS. The three-year KETJU programme has the objective of
improving operating conditions for logistic chains. Another programme in which Finland is involved is
SCANDINET, which aims to create closer links between hinterland intermodal and ferry ro-ro
connections in Scandinavian countries and between Scandinavia and the European continent.

Germany
Germany has a long tradition of political support for combined transport. Currently, public
investment planning has allocated a budget of more than DEM 4 billion (over EUR 2 000 million) to
terminal building and improvements.
Combined transport pick-up and delivery operations to and from terminals are exempted from
some restrictions that otherwise are applied to road transport. 31

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Hungary
In Hungary, regulations on the development of intermodal transport have to be harmonised with
the Guidelines of the European Union. The Hungarian Government has also passed a resolution on
“The concept of establishing and operating the Hungarian network of the European combined transport
system”.
Pursuant to regulations and decrees:
• A foreign carrier operating combined transport may run its vehicles and carry containers, swap
bodies and semi-trailers between railway combined transport terminals as well as ro-ro harbour
terminals without holding an international freight transport licence as long as the transport
distance from the terminal does not exceed 70 kilometres. The same conditions apply to
terminals located within 70 km of a border crossing point.
• Foreign carriers enjoy a 50% reduction in vehicle tax and are exempt from the use of an
international road transport licence.
• Full exemption from vehicle tax applies to foreign trucks running on roads between railway
combined transport terminals and inland waterway ro-ro harbours and the point of loading/
unloading where such a haul is not longer than 70 km. The same applies where combined
transport terminals are located within 70 km of a border crossing point.
Investment grants are planned for combined transport terminals and to enable railways to
purchase special combined transport rolling stock. The road legislation allows exemptions from
weekend driving bans for combined transport.
Hungary has signed agreements on combined transport with neighbouring countries and other
countries that are of importance from the point of view of combined transport.

Italy
In Italy, laws 240/90 and 385/90 contain specific plans for the promotion of intermodal transport.
Italy has signed the United Nations international agreement on intermodal transport (AGTC).
Several ministries and national authorities are involved in the transport sector, although the
primary agencies are the Ministry of Transport and Navigation and the Ministry of Public Works. The
Ministry of Transport and Navigation is responsible for rail, air and marine transport, including the
normal maintenance and operation of marine infrastructure. The Ministry of Public Works oversees
motor carriers, roads (including circulation and road safety) and the construction of ocean and inland
marine infrastructure. The Ministry of Public Works relies on agencies and other bodies such as the
National Road Authority (ANAS) and 24 motorway concessionaires to implement its functions, while the
Ministry of Transportation and Navigation relies on bodies such as the Italian Railway Company (F.S.).
The Ministry of Transportation and Navigation has a specific unit for intermodal transport. In addition, a
Parliamentary Special Commission deals with problems related to transportation in general, with
particular attention devoted to the implementation of intermodal and multimodal transport
development for both long-distance freight operations and freight and passenger transport at the
regional and metropolitan level.
In Italy, the regions (and their administrative sub-divisions, the provinces and municipalities) are
responsible for the secondary transport network. The regions are also involved in the national transport
plan by providing proposals and support via the State-Regions Conference. The national transport plan
is implemented by the Ministry of Transport.
The Italian Services Conference has been created to speed up the decision-making process. This
conference facilitates the involvement of all interested administrations in the approval of proposals in
the transportation field put forward by the Ministry of Transportation and Navigation.
The Ministry of Transport has a specific unit on intermodal transport. In particular, this unit deals
with the technical and administrative implementation of programmes financed by the state, as defined
32 by law 240/90. Furthermore, Italy is trying to achieve economic equilibrium through the application of

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National Policies and Organisational Structures

different taxation levels and tariffs policies across sectors. This result has been achieved even if the
optimisation of the costs for the transport companies and carriers are linked to transport distances
exceeding 500 km. Support is provided for combined transport through the building of terminals. In
addition, combined transport pick-up and delivery operations are exempted from the weekend driving ban.

Japan
Japan’s intermodal freight policies are embedded in the framework of the “Comprehensive
Programme of Logistics Policies” (CPLP, 1997). The goals of the CPLP are:
• To provide one of the most convenient and attractive logistic services in the Asia-Pacific region.
• To reduce transport costs so as not to diminish the international competitiveness of Japanese
industries.
• To cope with negative externalities (environmental issues, safety) related to logistics in an
appropriate manner.
The policy focuses on infrastructure and deregulation (safety, abolition of demand-supply
adjustment rules) and the realisation of a sophisticated logistical system (IT, standardisation, new
technologies). CPLP is reviewed annually and has become the major action programme from the
standpoint of promoting intermodal freight transport.
The Japanese Government has set up an inter-Ministerial promotion conference (Comprehensive
Logistics Policy Promotion Conference: CLPPC) to discuss and implement CPLP. CLPPC includes
14 ministries and agencies. The Ministries of International Trade and Industry (MITI), Transport (MOT)
and Construction (MOC) play major roles as the secretariats of CLPPC. Although it has been decided
that MOT and MOC will be merged in 2001, the details of this merger are still under discussion.
CLPPC five working groups: modernisation of logistics information technology; promotion of
paletisation; promotion of intra-city freight transport efficiency; introduction of EDI, guidelines for
promoting the improvement of logistics bases. The Japanese Government has also set up local
conferences (Local CLPPCs) in nine regions, which enable local governments and the private sector to
participate in discussions on specific programmes at the local level.
General measures include:
• Deregulation: two items will be targeted from the standpoint of efficiency improvement:
– Abolition of demand-supply adjustment rules.
– The review of safety regulations to respond to international standards and technical innovation.
• Realisation of sophisticated logistical systems: including EDI, standardisation and new technologies.
• Improvement of infrastructure: logistics-related infrastructure will be improved, focusing on the above
policies.
Specific measures include:
• Intra-city logistics (alleviating traffic congestion and improving cargo-loading rates for trucks), inter-
regional logistics (promotion of coastal shipping and railroad cargo transport, improvement of
arterial highways and the deregulation of the trucking industry).
• International logistics (improvement of marine container terminals and transport within ports,
computerisation and simplification of customs clearance and other procedures, improvement of
highways for the passage of ISO-standard containers, improvement of domestic marine transport
of export cargo, promotion of international air-freight transport, and maintaining a stable
international marine transport system).
Concrete actions for promoting intermodal freight transport include:
– Promotion of multimodalism by infrastructure improvement.
– Promotion of coastal shipping transport.
– Promotion of railroad cargo transport. 33

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Intermodal Freight Transport: Institutional Aspects

– Promotion of transport by inland waterways.


– Improvement of logistical bases.
– Utilisation of recent telecommunications innovation.
– Standardisation (pallets, containers).
– Improvement and operation of terminals (for cost-down and efficiency).
– Transport within ports (loading on Sundays).
– Domestic surface transport of import/export cargoes.
As for international or national level infrastructures, subsidies for local governments and
investment loans and/or tax deductions are applied for various types of infrastructure investments.

Mexico
The Mexican Ministry of Communications and Transportation (SCT) is responsible for road
infrastructure, transportation and communications. The organisational structure of the Department is
primarily oriented towards subject matter, although its Transport Division is structured along modal
lines. The Department does not have a dedicated intermodal office, and is not at this time considering
the development of a specific intermodal strategy.
The Ministry of Communications and Transport supports research on containerised transport and
modal integration at ports through the Mexican Institute of Transport (IMT), a centre of research and
technological development for transportation. One of the principal objectives of the Mexican
Government is the privatisation of all freight carriers.
Mexico is concentrating on developing market forces in the field of transport services and on
reducing government intervention to the extent possible. Substantial progress has been made in the
supply and productivity of all modes of transport. The strategic concept of the Mexican Government is
to facilitate commercial movements of national and international shipbrokers and to reduce logistic
costs. Since this strategy has been quietly successful, the Ministry of Communications and Transport
sees no reason to develop an explicit intermodal policy to improve the quality of the services and
promote integration between the different modes of transport.
The strategy for the transport sector is to create favourable conditions and remove the major
obstacles in the supply of transport services:
• To diminish the costs of transport services.
• To improve the quality of the services.
• To provide greater choice for users.
This policy consists of three pillars:
• The deregulation of road transport, maritime transport and, to a lesser extent, air transport to
strengthen the role of users in the relationship between shippers and carriers.
• The privatisation of transport companies: maritime transport has almost been privatised, and the
privatisation of railways and harbours is also almost finished.
• Participation of international investors in transport companies (joint ventures) and strategic and
commercial alliances.

The Netherlands
Intermodal transport comes under the responsibility of the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and
Water Management. The Directorate-General for Freight Transport deals with freight transport. The
objective of freight transport policy is to promote a safe, competitive and sustainable freight transport
system and intermodal transport plays a vital role is achieving this goal. However, achieving this is not
34 the sole responsibility of government. On the contrary, a critical success factor is the willingness of the

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private sector to take action. The government influences market forces in the direction of the desired
outcome by stimulating, facilitating and regulating the market process.
Environmental concern was an important driving force in inciting the Dutch Government to
promote intermodal transport. However, now that the road sector has drastically improved its
environmental performance, the assumption that a policy which aims at a modal shift of freight
transport from road to rail, water and pipelines, will always be good for the environment is no longer
guaranteed to be right in all cases. A new driving force for the promotion of intermodal transport is
accessibility: the significance of freight transport for production and trade is undeniable and freight
transport to, from and through the Netherlands is of utmost socio-economic importance.
Intermodal transport policy is aimed at the optimisation and integration of the different links in the
transport chain. The stimulation of a modal shift from road transport to railways, inland waterways and
short sea and – in the future – underground tube transport systems will only be pursued if it can be
demonstrated that such a strategy is better for economic or environmental reasons. Achieving this goal
calls for a spatial structure, comprising multimodal infrastructure, nodal points and industry parks that
support intermodal transport. In addition to this policy approach which targets the supply side of the
traffic market, influencing the demand side of intermodal transport is also important; that is, influencing
the choices of shippers and logistic service providers. Intermodal policy is part of the Dutch
Government’s integrated freight transport policy.
The Directorate-General for Freight Transport consists of two inspectorates (Road, Maritime) and
three policy directorates: Transport Safety, Transport Sectors and General Freight Transport Policy.
Within the Infrastructure, Ports and Intermodal Division of the General Freight Transport Policy
Directorate, a small team is responsible for intermodal transport policy. Its activities are carried out in
close co-operation with a number of other ministries: Economic Affairs, Housing, Spatial Planning and
Environment, Agriculture and Fisheries, and Finance.
In addition to the policies aimed at improving individual modes of transport which are applied by
the directorates responsible for transport modes, specific intermodal instruments used to achieve the
goals of a safe, competitive and sustainable freight transport system include:
• Stimulation of the development of terminals and transfer points (budget for rail infrastructure,
e.g. the rail service centre Maasvlakte en Waalhaven in the Rotterdam region).
• Expansion of the capacity of the inland waterway network (e.g. budget for canals such as
Amsterdam-Lemmer).
• Temporary Subsidy Arrangement for Rail and Inland Waterway Connections (connecting firms to
the main network).
• Stimulation of alternative transport systems for the future (studies and pilots on Underground
Logistics Systems).
• Influencing the logistics behaviour of shippers (modal shift scans; “Transactie” – scans for more
efficient road transport; subsidy for the start-up of a Promotion Bureau for Short Sea Shipping).
• Trial involving longer and heavier trucks for transport to and from intermodal terminals.
• Special lanes for trucks.
• Use of telematics and projects aimed at the prevention of empty kilometres.
• Promoting physical planning favouring multimodal accessible business parks.
Additional information relating to the Netherlands can be found in Annex.

Norway
The Norwegian Ministry of Transport and Communications is responsible for issues related to road
traffic, rail transport and civil aviation. The Ministry of Fisheries has responsibility for general marine
infrastructure, for regulations related to port infrastructure and sea-traffic measures. The Public Road
Administration, the National Rail Administration and the Civil Aviation Administration all report to the 35

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Intermodal Freight Transport: Institutional Aspects

Ministry of Transport and Communications. The Coastal Administration reports to the Ministry of
Fisheries. There is no particular office for intermodal transport. However, the Planning Section, Public
Road and Environmental Issues, within the Ministry of Transport and Communications, is involved in
long-term multimodal planning. Intermodal transport will be given special attention in the National
Transport Plan 2002-2011. Several other Ministries, e.g. Finance and Customs, Justice and the Police,
Environment and Trade and Industry, also deal with issues related to freight transport.
The National Transport Plan 2002-2011 (NTP) represents the first step in a comprehensive
Norwegian intermodal policy. The following areas are discussed in the NTP:
• Institutional co-operation and reorganisation.
• Harmonisation of competition rules and state aid regimes, and development of common charging
and pricing principles.
• The need for improvements in infrastructure.
• Rail: increased capacity for freight, larger profiles in tunnels and more efficient terminals (nodes).
• Sea: concentrate traffic to selected ports.
• Improvement of local and regional network in order to strengthen local supply chains and the
distribution patterns around nodal points.
As part of its future transport plan, Norway is examining intermodal transport and the Research
Council of Norway has a programme (Logitrans) that supports projects aimed at promoting intermodal
transport. The Institute of Transport Economics is carrying out a study on intermodal transport analysis
for the NTP.

Switzerland
Switzerland has a long tradition of receiving transit traffic between the north and the south of
Europe. In 1994, the population adopted a constitutional article to ensure that an important part of
freight traffic would be shifted to rail. A 28 tonne maximum vehicle weight and bans on night driving and
on Sunday driving have been introduced to limit the volume of road vehicles crossing the Alps.
However, this policy has not been totally successful and has contributed to a deviation of traffic flows to
avoid crossing Switzerland. In the framework of the agreement on land transport concluded with the
European Union (EU), Switzerland intends to adapt its political regulations to those of the EU and, in
particular, to gradually adapt its weight limit to those set out in European legislation. However, this will
be accompanied by a parallel increase in the taxes and fees paid by road transport with a view to
charging road transport operators the full costs generated by this mode of transport.
Swiss policy is now aimed at sustainable mobility, i.e. a sufficient level of mobility accompanied by
a reduction of environmental degradation. Intermodal transport is one of the most important means to
achieve this goal of sustainable mobility.
A number of obstacles need to be eliminated in order to increase the use of intermodal transport.
Rail tunnels need to be enlarged, new terminals built and better planning of the use of locomotives
implemented. Tariffs for individual transport modes need to be more efficient in ensuring that charges
to users fully reflect external costs.
Two offices are responsible for intermodal transportation. The Federal Office of Transport is in
charge of formulating and implementing policies regarding intermodal transport. The Federal Office of
Roads deals with issues related to regulations, such as weights and dimensions, required rest periods
and vehicle safety standards. The regions do not deal directly with promoting intermodal transport, but
are involved in infrastructure planning. Many private organisations have been created associating
industry transport players, in order to improve and promote the quality of intermodal transport.
The promotion of intermodal transport entails developing the infrastructure, i.e. enlarging the
capacity of railways and terminals. The most important project is the realisation and financing of a new
railway through the Alps with tunnels through the Lötschberg and Gothard. In addition, the government
36 can subsidise combined transport operators and grant financial assistance for terminals and wagons for

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intermodal transport. In this context, Swiss Federal Railways received a general subsidy of
ECU 66 million. The system of government support is currently being revised, with the goal of
improving competition among the various operators in the framework of the reform of the Swiss
railways. In the new system, the subsidies will be used to lower the price of rail slots and to cover the
uncovered costs of additional combined transport services, when these services are ordered by the state.

United Kingdom
Current transport policy in the United Kingdom is the result of an analysis of trends in UK transport
development. If policies were not changed, traffic would grow by 46% and road freight traffic by 29% by
the year 2021. It was clear that a new policy was necessary to address the problems that would be
caused by the predicted increased congestion and CO2 emissions, not least higher costs to business, a
rise in pollution and the potential for more accidents and greater disturbance of communities.
It is UK policy to promote intermodal integration. The United Kingdom’s vision is for its entire
freight distribution network to be used as efficiently and effectively as possible, in a manner which
supports the continued economic growth of the country while at the same time minimising the impacts
of distribution on society and the environment.
The UK’s Transport White Paper was published in July 1998. It contains policies and proposals
aimed at creating a better, more integrated transport system and at tackling the problems of pollution
and congestion. Responsibility for implementing the policy lies with both central and local government.
Local authorities will set out their proposals for delivering integrated distribution and passenger
transport over a five-year period within Local Transport Plans.
The White Paper has led to a number of follow-up papers intended to focus more closely on
specific policy proposals. “Sustainable Distribution: A Strategy” sets out how the government will
promote its policy for a more sustainable distribution system through partnership between central and
local government and the distribution industry. It sets out an integrated approach to freight
distribution, to make best use of the entire freight infrastructure. It also highlights the significance of
strategic planning in integrating freight distribution infrastructure within the land-use planning
framework and promoting more efficient use of roads, railways, waterways and shipping lanes. Other
“daughter” papers are being developed on ports, inland waterway and aviation. A “daughter” paper on
shipping was developed in December 1997.
An important measure contained within the Transport White Paper is the requirement for local
authorities to consider opportunities for freight interchange facilities. Draft Planning Policy Guidance
sets out how regional transport strategies can be used to facilitate their development.
The UK Government provides funding to firms in the form of Freight Facility Grants (FFGs) to
encourage the movement of freight away from road and on to other modes. FFGs aim to offset some of
the costs of the investment in infrastructure required by alternative distribution modes, consequently
averting one of the major reasons for maintaining existing practices and being unwilling to adopt new
ideas. The government is committed to extending Freight Facilities Grants to coastal and short sea
shipping.
Additional information relating to the United Kingdom can be found in Annex.

United States
In the United States, two acts support intermodal transport: the Intermodal Surface Transportation
Efficiency Act of 1991, and the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century. The Office of
Intermodalism was created as a result of the above legislation, to co-ordinate all modal agencies in the
promotion of intermodal transport. The United States have made funds available for infrastructure
projects, the development of intermodal loading units and for financial support on certain non-profit
routes. On institutional aspects, the United States are working on a North America Freight Facilitation
Strategy and the development of freight partnerships with the private sector. For infrastructure
development, the United States are conducting studies of intermodal freight connectors on their 37

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National Highway System, and intermodal freight capacity, including the marine transportation system.
Chicago is doing a study on metropolitan area freight. Other initiatives on operations and safety are
underway; for example, a programme on international border clearance, a working group on intermodal
freight technology and ITS testing. Finally, the regulatory initiatives include studies on truck size and
weight and container standards.
The Department of Transport administers a number of modal agencies. The Federal Highway
Administration (FHWA), the Federal Railway Administration (FRA), the Marine Administration (MARAD),
the Research and Special Projects Administration (RSPA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA)
administer surface transportation, while the National Highway and Transportation Safety Administration
(NHTSA), the FHWA Motor Carrier Safety, the FRA Safety and the RSPA Pipeline Safety administer
surface transportation safety. There are also other federal regulatory agencies that deal with
transportation issues, such as the Federal Aviation Administration, the Surface Transportation Board
and the US Maritime Board/Commission, whose responsibilities include economic (competition) and
safety aspects. The Army Corps of Engineers has an important role in the functioning of inland
waterways and dredging of ports. Intermodal transportation in the United States has recently taken on a
higher profile, with the appointment of an Associate Deputy Secretary and Director to head a specific
intermodal office. The staff is financed with resources from the Federal Highway Administration.
Transportation agencies also work closely with other departments, in particular on environmental
issues. The United States and Canada have also created a joint non-governmental venture to develop
and administer the Saint Lawrence Seaway.
In addition to the modal agencies administered by the DOT, there are Metropolitan Planning
Offices for transportation, and Port Authorities, which are public entities. The VOLPE transport research
centre in Boston is a federal-government-funded organisation that conducts research on different
transportation matters, such as Global Positioning Systems activities and operator performance
analysis. Several private organisations are involved to different extents in intermodal transport: the
Intermodal Association of North America, the Containerization and Intermodal Institute and the
Intelligent Transportation Systems Society. All freight carriers in the United States are owned and
operated by the private sector.
The establishment of an intermodal freight analysis framework is expected to help prepare the
case for further funding of freight-related activities in the next six-year re-authorisation process
beginning in 2002.
Additional information relating to the United States can be found in Annex.

European Union
The European Commission has clear goals to promote competition between modes of transport
and haulage services by harmonising transport regulations. It also wants to create a European transport
network by improving the interoperability of different systems, and make better use of existing
infrastructure and internalise external transport costs.
The core purpose of the Common Transport Policy is to create a framework for sustainable mobility.
Important goals of EU transport policy are:
• The creation of a liberalised and efficient internal transport market, with competition between
modes of transport and haulage services, based on the necessary degree of harmonisation of
national transport regulations; basic components of this objective are the revitalisation of the
railways and the liberalisation of port services.
• The development of the transport Trans-European Networks with the integration of national
transport networks into a European network by improving the interconnections and the technical
interoperability of different systems.
• The integration of transport modes from unimodal to multimodal networks, so that more efficient
38 use is made of the infrastructure; in this respect it is especially important to establish a common

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framework for the allocation of the costs of infrastructure use, while respecting the subsidiary
principle and specific national situations.
• To reduce, as far as possible, the negative effects that transport has on society, not only those on
the environment, but especially those produced by safety problems.
• To reinforce the external dimension of the Common Transport Policy in particular in relation to
enlargement.
The policy objective behind the Commission’s action to promote freight intermodalism is shown in
the Communication Paper on “Intermodality and Intermodal Freight Transport in the European Union”.3
The objective is: “to develop a framework for an optimal integration of different modes so as to enable
an efficient and cost-effective use of the transport system through seamless, customer-oriented door-to-
door services, whilst favouring competition between transport operators”. The integration of modes is
addressed at three levels: infrastructure and transport means, operations and use of infrastructure, and
services and regulations. The main objectives of this Communication are to identify existing friction
costs in intermodal transport and to propose an action programme. The most important areas of action
relate to:
• The establishment of a uniform intermodal liability regime.
• Standardisation of loading units.
• The creation of an electronic commerce market for intermodal transport.
• Integration of intermodal transport in supply chains.
Currently, competencies on intermodal issues are split between different units of the Directorates
of Land Transport (Combined Transport), Trans-European Networks and Infrastructure (TEN of
Combined Transport) and Development of Transport Policy and Research and Development (RTD and
the Intermodality Action Programme).
Within the offices of the European Commission, intermodal transport4 is handled by the Unit for
Analysis and Transport Policy Development of the Directorate for Research and Development and
Development of Transport Policy. Combined transport, as defined by the ECMT, is the responsibility of
the Directorate of Inland Transport’s Unit for Freight.
The European Union has also shown its commitment to the promotion of intermodalism in
transportation through legislation concerning the development of the Trans-European Networks,
measures of liberalisation, the programme Pilot Actions on Combined Transport and research and
development.
Additional information relating to the European Union can be found in Annex.

3. COM(97)243 final of 29.05.1997.


4. Defined as any combination of at least two modes of transport. 39

© OECD 2001
Chapter 5
CONCLUSIONS

Aim and rationale for intermodal transport


• Intermodal policies aim to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the door-to-door
integrated transport chain.
• Key driving forces for promoting intermodal transport differ among countries and vary over time.
The main rationale for promoting intermodalism ranges from the efficient use of infrastructure
and the promotion of operational business efficiency to environmental concerns.

Modal approaches are necessary… but not sufficient


• Intermodal transport is hampered if the performance of any of the key transport modes is
inadequate or if the linkages between modes are not efficient and reliable.
• Since the current level of performance of individual modes is not satisfactory in many countries,
it is understandable that modal approaches continue to dominate in many cases. Modal
approaches are needed to achieve efficiency gains as well as potential environmental and safety
improvements in each mode’s operations.
• Modal approaches are also appropriate in areas where regulatory reform is required (e.g. rail
liberalisation in Europe).
• Many of the policy measures considered likely to promote “intermodalism” include mode-
specific actions. For example, the promotion of a modal shift away from road to rail or inland
shipping focuses on improving the rail and waterway infrastructure in order to strengthen the
competitive positions of these transport modes.
• In most countries, there is emphasis in the policy frameworks on promoting transport efficiency
and facilitating modal reform. While the approaches to achieving transport efficiency
improvements differ, policy frameworks generally support competitive operating environments.
In addition, there is increasing reliance on policies favouring more commercial approaches to the
provision of transport infrastructure and transport operations (including competition in the
pricing and provision of transport services) which can be valuable tools in improving modal
transport efficiency.
• The key question is whether pursuit of modal policies alone will suffice to deal with the
challenges of the future, which include substantial growth in international and national goods
transport and the development of individual business-to-business and business-to-consumer
markets, facilitated by rapid growth in electronic commerce applications. While governments
have tended to pursue modal policy approaches, industry has increasingly taken an intermodal
approach to provision of the services required by users.
• In order to achieve improvements in efficiency and environmental outcomes that go beyond
those that can be realised by purely modal policies, many countries are now considering
transport issues more from the perspective of the whole door-to-door transport chain. Such a
“chain approach” leads most often to different measures and captures the benefits from use of
the most appropriate modes that are being sought by transport users and operators as well as by 41

© OECD 2001
Intermodal Freight Transport: Institutional Aspects

governments. Such measures overlay modal policies, promote inter-operability and competition
between modes and fall into the domain of true “intermodal policies” in their broadest sense. In
many transport administrations, this type of intermodal thinking, which focuses on integrated
transport, is already present in policy objectives; however, while the words are there, the deeds
often lag behind.
• It is difficult to design and implement “true” intermodal measures in a predominantly mode-
specific world and it has to be recognised that the costs can often be considerable (and beyond
the resources of individual users) and relate to different transport operations (with different
ownership structures), while the benefits can be widely dispersed across a range of users and
difficult to recover under current pricing systems. This is an area for policy development which
may require a new type of logistical knowledge in government organisations. Government
organisations know a great deal about road, rail, waterways and sea-going shipping, but are
generally less knowledgeable about logistical chains, and tend to focus less on the operational
efficiency of the transport system as a whole than on modal issues.

Different approaches can be taken, depending on governmental involvement in transport


ownership/provision and transport operations

• The extent of government involvement in transport infrastructure and operations is another factor
which influences the policy approach and priority assigned to intermodal policy development
and implementation. In recent years, environmental concerns have placed greater focus on the
role of intermodal transport.
• Governments having a high level of involvement in transport infrastructure ownership/provision
and transport operations, need to be actively involved in intermodal policy development and
the intermodal actions taken by their transport operations. This recognises that many of the
intermodal issues which need to be addressed by government and private sector organisations
are likely to be related to facilities (such as ports and intermodal terminals) or operations (such
as combined transport involving rail services) which involve government ownership.
• In countries where there is increasing private ownership and/or operation of transport
infrastructure as governments have withdrawn from involvement in commercial transport
operations, intermodal transport improvements are largely driven by industry interests (shippers
and carriers) seeking to provide value-added services and find least-cost solutions to
transportation problems.
• In countries with a high level of reliance on market forces and private infrastructure ownership
and operations, there are nevertheless a number of policy issues relating to matters such as the
efficiency of transport services, charging and taxing regimes and environmental aspects of
transport infrastructure and operations that require intermodal policy consideration. Moreover,
governments play an important role in creating the regulatory framework in which intermodal
transport can develop, encompassing such diverse factors as safety and environmental
regulations, customs procedures and EDI.

Policy instruments

• Transport administrations with established and dedicated intermodal transport programmes and
resources – such as a special action programme, a special task force, an intermodal transport
policy unit or other similar organisational provisions – have developed more explicit and more
focused intermodal transport policies than have transport administrations with purely “mono”-
modal units. Dedicated intermodal transport programmes also tend to adopt different types of
instruments and develop different external relations than typical “mono”-modal units, thus
contributing to variety in the policy mix. Since there seldom is a silver bullet guaranteeing policy
42 effectiveness, variety can be beneficial.

© OECD 2001
Conclusions

• The relative weight of the key elements in the policy objectives is reflected in the types of
instruments which are being applied in practice. In some countries, the justification for promoting
intermodal policies and the type of instruments used focus on environmental issues and modal
split while in others the centre of gravity is on efficiency and pricing instruments.
• The main policy instruments currently in use are:
– Strategic planning to integrate freight distribution infrastructure with land-use plans.
– Regulatory and legislative initiatives, including regulation of vehicle weights and dimensions.
– Economic instruments, such as taxes and charges.
– Financial assistance to government transport operations (e.g. ports and railways) to stimulate
the development of terminals and transfer points and support the purchase of intermodal
equipment.
– Initiation, leadership and support for intermodal demonstration projects involving the private
sector.
– Financial incentives, including support for research and development.
• Governments that are more interventionist or more directly involved in ownership of transport
operations are also likely to use regulatory measures such as licensing exemptions and driving
bans at specified times to favour intermodal transport. In countries with greater reliance on
market forces, use of such regulatory instruments by government is limited.
• A number of detailed country responses which can assist other countries interested in intermodal
policy development provide examples of additional measures which go beyond the traditional
administrative focus on transport infrastructure and regulations. These include:
– Development of longer-term visions and policy directions encompassing intermodal transport.
– Promotion of regional and urban intermodal transport and plans and spatial planning measures
favouring intermodal transport efficiency (e.g. on multimodal connectivity and location of
business parks and ports).
– Measures to ensure adequate co-ordination (such as bringing all modes under one
administrative umbrella).
– Intermodal corridor analyses.
– Policies aimed at standardisation of loading units and other actions favouring interoperability.
– Policies promoting logistical efficiency analyses by shippers and improvement in efficiency
through goods stream analysis.
– Monitoring of the economic and environmental performance of multimodal chains.

Communication between intermodal transport policy units and other actors


• Intermodal policy development requires co-operative arrangements between government and
the private sector. This is in part because intermodal services generally involve freight transfers
between transport operations and infrastructure with different ownership structures. Major
transport infrastructure was originally publicly owned and it is only relatively recently that
governments in some countries have divested themselves of operational responsibilities for
major infrastructure such as motorways, airports and ports. However, road, aviation and maritime
transport services are generally undertaken by the private sector and there is an increasing trend
towards commercial rail operations and private sector management of rail infrastructure.
• Intermodal transport policies and improvements need to be developed co-operatively with
modal approaches to ensure that they are targeted at existing impediments and aimed at getting
the linkages right. Co-operative arrangements can help to maintain a focus on the improvements
sought by governments, such as: intermodal infrastructure at airports and ports; environmental
benefits from improved intermodal services; harmonisation of operational practices and
standards; and interoperability in technology. They also can highlight the improvements sought 43

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Intermodal Freight Transport: Institutional Aspects

by users, such as: a wider range of transport options and therefore greater choice for users;
increased reliability; and improved transport services at reasonable cost.
• The likelihood of intermodal transport policy being successful depends on the relationship
between intermodal transport policy units (or other policy structures), industry advisory bodies
and other stakeholders, including:
– The formation of industry advisory groups/government consultancy boards, with a clear role
and function, increases the probability of intermodal transport policies targeting the key
issues; such industry advisory groups are more effective if they have clearly defined tasks and
report directly to the minister responsible for transport.
– Intermodal transport policies stand a greater chance of being implemented if the industry
bodies and intermodal transport policy units or other structures have clear lines of
communication with other government ministries, such as Finance, Environment, Trade, etc.

Performance-based outcomes
• Possible organisational benchmarks can be identified, but it is extremely difficult to measure the
effectiveness of a policy and even more difficult to compare the effectiveness of policies in
different countries. Instead, the approaches outlined provide a “toolkit” for countries when
setting up intermodal arrangements or considering organisational structures for intermodal
transport.
• The true value of intermodal approaches should be assessed in terms of performance “on the
ground”, rather than in terms of factors such as institutional arrangements alone.
• The extent to which the emphasis on combined transport and intermodal transport policy
(particularly in Europe) has resulted in improved performance of non-road transport is not clear.
There is a lack of data on which an overall assessment could be made. Aggregate estimates of
freight movement output (e.g. freight transport by rail in Europe) are not reliable indicators. For
example, increases in intermodal transport volume may not show up in aggregate rail-freight data
if the increase in intermodal tonnage is offset by decreases in the volume of bulk freight and vice
versa. Nevertheless, the emerging picture is that market share may not have changed significantly
in aggregate terms, although in some specific cases it has. However, in a growing overall transport
market, even a stable market share would mean an increase in intermodal volumes.
• The probability of better information becoming generally available in the future is quite low,
given that the private sector will be increasingly involved in intermodal transport (with related
commercial confidentiality concerns). In addition, changes in border controls may reduce some
existing data collections, and budget constraints in most countries will limit new collections to
issues with the highest priority.
• Intermodal projects should be evaluated on a “case-by-case” basis, working with the private and
public sector organisations involved. Such an approach is similar to that adopted in many other
aspects of transport (such as safety) where macro indicators may not provide a reliable guide to
the effectiveness of individual programmes.

Identification and removal of impediments


• Further work should concentrate on developing benchmarks for intermodal performance of
modes, modal combinations and modal interfaces and identifying policy options for
governments to address impediments to intermodal efficiency.

44

© OECD 2001
Annex 1
POLICIES AND ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURES IN THE NETHERLANDS,
THE UNITED KINGDOM, THE UNITED STATES AND THE EUROPEAN UNION

The Netherlands

Policy
The mission of the State’s freight transport policy, as developed by the Directorate-General for Freight Transport,
is to contribute to a safe, competitive freight transport system, with the goal of sustainable economic development.
Intermodal transport plays a vital role in achieving this goal. However, achieving sustainable development is not the
sole responsibility of government. On the contrary, a critical success factor is the willingness of the private sector to
take action. The government influences the direction of the desired outcome by stimulating, facilitating and
regulating the market process.
In the Second Transport Structure Plan (STSP) 1989-90 of the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water
Management, intermodal transport was mentioned as a growing market. The basic assumption was the need to
achieve sustainable development. In this respect, intermodal transport is a way of achieving both the underlying
economic objectives (accommodating transport growth and facilitating high-grade goods flows in order to promote
employment and value-added services) and the environmental objectives (alternative to long-haul road haulage).
The STSP intermodal transport component was worked out in 1994 by a Task Force on Intermodal Transport of
the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management. This Task Force prepared a Policy Paper on the
Promotion of Intermodal Transport which set ambitious targets for intermodal transport:
• Rail: from 2.6 million tonnes of unitised freight in 1993 to around 25 million tonnes in 2015.
• Inland shipping: from 5.7 million tonnes of unitised freight in 1993 to around 25 million tonnes in 2015.
• Short-sea shipping: to at least maintain its share of the transport of maritime containers and to capture 50% of the
market currently served by road transport to specific short-sea shipping destinations from the Netherlands:
this involves an increase from 4.3 million tonnes in 1993 to 13 million tonnes in 2015.
Intermodal transport in unitised freight flows over a distance in excess of 200 km should therefore increase from
12.6 million tonnes in 1994 to around 63 million tonnes in 2015. The market share of intermodal transport should
accordingly rise from approximately 30% in 1993 to almost 60% in 2015. Available information on current intermodal
volumes is set out in Tables A2 and A3.
Achieving the objectives for intermodal transport was rated very important from the point of view of economic
development and environmental quality. A sharp increase in road transport will necessarily reduce the accessibility
of the Netherlands and worsen the competitive position of its main ports. This may make the Netherlands less
attractive to international companies. As can be seen, traffic congestion can adversely affect the functioning of the
economy.
The reduction in traffic movements and exhaust emissions (CO2, NOx) that would be achieved by the use of water
and rail transport emphasises the direct relationship between intermodal transport and the objectives for
environmental quality set out in the Second Transport Structure Plan.
In 1996, the Dutch Government adopted a plan of approach on freight transport, called “Transport in Balance”.
The starting point for the approach was an objective for economic growth of 3% per year to improve the general
sustainability or durability of the economy. Transport policy will also have to fully comply with this objective.
The policy objectives of “Transport in Balance” are:
• Reinforcement of the competitive position of sustainable transport, particularly rail, inland shipping and short
sea by, among other means, infrastructure initiatives.
• Reduction of the environmental load from road traffic by, among other means, technical measures and
increasing efficiency (kilometre reduction).
• Improvement of the accessibility of economic centres for goods traffic on the road. 45

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Intermodal Freight Transport: Institutional Aspects

“Transport in Balance” is the freight-specific supplement to the plan “Working Together on Accessibility”. It
contains a package of infrastructural improvements and extensions in the field of road and rail. “Transport in Balance”
announced over NLG 200 million of additional infrastructure investments in inland waterways, NLG 60 million for rail
infrastructure and NLG 60 million for miscellaneous measures (a total of NLG 320 million) to promote modal shift.
Furthermore, “Transport in Balance” sets out many other measures encouraging greater recourse to transport by
other modes (rail, inland shipping, short sea) and, whenever possible, restricting the nuisance factors caused by road
transport.
Transferring goods from roads to other modes of transport, i.e. modal shift, was considered as one means of
alleviating the adverse impacts of road transport. However, other modes do not always offer a satisfactory alternative.
For this reason, the aim is to ensure that as few empty kilometres are driven as possible and that vehicles cause a
minimum of environmental damage. More efficient and cleaner road transport is thus also an important objective.
In “Transport in Balance”, emphasis is placed on strengthening the market share of environmentally responsible
freight-transport operations and gaining in efficiency (fewer vehicle kilometres) and accessibility for road transport.
The plan proposes 80 measures and projects for the period up to 2015.
A third Transport Structure Plan is currently being developed, in which intermodal transport policy is viewed as
a integral part of a high-quality and efficient goods transport system. Transport by rail or water instead of by road is
preferred when this is the best option from the point of view of utilisation of the available infrastructure capacity of
the whole network or from the point of view of safety.
Environmental concern used to be a very important driving force behind the Dutch Government’s promotion of
intermodal transport. Now that the road sector has drastically improved its environmental performance, the
assumption that a policy which aims at modal shift of freight transport from road to rail, water and pipelines, will
always be good for the environment is no longer guaranteed to be right in all cases. An important new driving force
for the Dutch Government to promote intermodal transport is accessibility: the importance of freight transport for
production and trade is undeniable. Freight transport to, from and through the Netherlands is of utmost socio-
economic importance.
The new intermodal transport policy aims at the optimisation and integration of the different links in the
transport chain. The stimulation of a modal shift from road transport to railways, inland waterways and short sea and
– in the future – underground tube transport systems will only be pursued if it can be demonstrated that this strategy
is preferable for economic or environmental reasons. This calls for a spatial structure which comprises multimodal
infrastructure, nodal points and industry parks that support intermodal transport. For example, it is important to
design a port region in such a way that efficient performance is encouraged in all transport modes.
In addition to the policy approach outlined above, which is aimed at the “supply side” of the traffic market, it is
also important to stimulate the “demand side” of intermodal transport, i.e. to influence the choices of shippers and
logistic service providers.
Intermodal transport alone will not suffice to achieve a high-quality and sustainable transport system.
Intermodal policy is just one component of the integrated freight transport policy of the Dutch Government. This is
certainly true when the expected growth of freight transport is considered. Forecasts for the Netherlands indicate an
annual economic expansion of 2.75%, resulting in an increase in the volume of freight transport of 60% by 2010. In a
densely populated country such as the Netherlands, the use of scarce space for logistics, industry, agriculture and
residential purposes is a topic of political debate. The expected growth will considerably intensify the struggle for
space and, combined with the need for sustainable development, calls for a rethinking of the role of transport and
logistics in the economy.
Traditionally, the Dutch Ministry of Transport has focused on traffic and infrastructural issues in order to optimise
the functioning of the traffic market. Simply stated, the approach has consisted of trying to keep the supply of
infrastructure in line with rising demand. To move towards the goal of sustainability, the approach has to shift away
from this “provide-and-react” strategy, to a strategy of “anticipate-and-prevent”. In this approach, the policy domain,
the traditional focus on traffic and infrastructure, is expanded considerably. It includes influencing the demand side,
not only of the traffic market and the underlying transport demand by shippers, but also at the source of transport:
the goods-market, i.e. decisions taken by consumers, producers and other governments.
The “anticipate-and-prevent’ strategy comprises three pillars that, taken together, can lead to a more “transport-
efficient economy”:
– First, the endeavour to avoid transport that is, from an economic point of view, not strictly necessary. In other
words, it should be possible to reduce the number of trips and the length of trips by measures such as
reducing the volume of products, e.g. via reducing the water and air content of products; optimising the
planning of production processes, production and distribution locations; and logistical strategies which
might result in slowing down the rise in demand for transport services.
• Second, transport that is nevertheless needed should use the most appropriate mode from an efficiency point
of view. The modal-shift scanning project shows that in many cases rail, inland waterways or short-sea shipping
46 are viable alternatives to road transport and do not always cost more.

© OECD 2001
Annex 1

• Third, each transport mode accommodating the resulting traffic flows should be aiming at maximum efficiency.
A better utilisation of capacity using technical measures and pricing policies and certain expansions of the
infrastructure are key factors in achieving this.

Promising policy directions

Better use of existing infrastructure, and selective provision of new infrastructure


Better use can be achieved by spreading demand more evenly over time and encouraging a switch to less-
congested modes whenever possible. Better use of infrastructure will be achieved by technical and operational
measures (e.g. traffic management), but should be supported by pricing measures to reduce demand in peak
periods. The current road pricing plan ( “prisfitstarief”, i.e. peak tariff) is focused on a shift from peak periods to other
periods in highly congested links on the infrastructural network. This current plan is a first step towards a more far-
reaching pricing policy, aimed at charging prices that reflect the internal and external costs of various modes. On this
point, Dutch policy is based on the EU proposals presented in the White Paper on Fair Payment for Infrastructure
Use, although many questions are still open to debate.
However, where bottlenecks remain after the application of “peak tariff” pricing and after optimisation of
the use of existing capacity with other measures, additional infrastructure should be considered. Such an
approach represents a change from past practice, when constructing new infrastructure seemed to be the first
and most obvious solution. Nevertheless, the Netherlands will spend USD 35 billion on infrastructure between
now and 2010.

Greater responsibility of enterprises for more efficient logistics


The scanning project has shown that modal-shift is possible for individual companies in the transport market.
They need to take responsibility in making the economy more transport-efficient. In order to speed up this process,
the Ministry is advocating a “logistical reporting and care system”. Such a system, which is comparable with the well-
known quality systems, will be developed together with the industry branch organisations.
Of course, raising efficiency is not solely the responsibility of shippers. Consumers, too, should be made more
aware of the consequences of their behaviour. All citizens need to understand that ever-increasing requirements for
such things as “Efficient Consumer Response” and shorter lead-times, as well as e-commerce, will in many cases
serve to increase demand for transport capacity and could thus endanger sustainable development.

Promoting transport-efficiency-oriented physical planning concepts


The key notion here is that, if economic activities can be concentrated, transport flows and intermodal facilities
in transport-economic corridors can lead to higher transport efficiency. The Netherlands have elaborated on this and
have chosen to give priority to a limited number of major economic freight corridors in addition to physical planning
concepts which are city/passenger transport oriented. The development of transport-efficient freight corridors needs
to incorporate the construction of terminals allowing a seamless switch from one mode of transport to another.
A new policy vision is that new industrial parks should be accessible for multiple modes of transport. An
important concept in this respect is “bundling”, which implies that new industrial plants should preferably be located
near links with the hinterland. Furthermore, these industrial parks should preferentially be placed near terminals
which are optimally located and easily accessible.

Mode-specific policies

Inland shipping
Improvement of the secondary waterway network is desirable to further reinforce the role of inland shipping
within the borders of the Netherlands. While the large through-traffic routes (the main waterway network) are
excellent and have led to the success of the inland shipping sector operating to Germany and Belgium, the
sometimes low quality of the secondary network of smaller waterways acts as a barrier to further expansion. The
whole inland shipping sector was to be progressively liberalised by the year 2000.
The situation in ports is also important. In expanding or restructuring ports, access to all modes should be
considered.

Short sea
Over the coming year, the accent in short-sea transport will be energetically placed on the development of the
demand side. A recent survey of shippers showed that potential users are still not fully aware of the possibilities of 47

© OECD 2001
Intermodal Freight Transport: Institutional Aspects

short-sea transport. In addition, a number of prejudices are associated with short-sea shipping. A promotion plan is
currently being developed to address these bottlenecks.

Rail transport
To improve the quality of freight transport by rail, the government promotes competition between freight
carriers. At the time being there is one national freight carrier and two small ones. Policy is therefore directed
at lowering the barriers to entry for new commercial rail carriers in order to reduce the risks of entry to this (new)
market.
The Betuwe line – a 160-km long freight rail connection between Rotterdam and Germany, currently under
construction – will not only provide the necessary capacity for growth, but will also improve the quality and reduce
the costs of rail transport. The Betuwe line is dedicated to freight transport and should lead to a substantially
improved and more competitive transport product.

Other programmes
Intermodal transport is promoted by a number of other programmes and actions. These include: a research
programme on underground tube transport systems; a project to improve logistic efficiency in companies; and
several subsidisation schemes to promote intermodal transport equipment and connections. For example, to foster
awareness among shippers, the logistic chains of 100 shippers have been examined to explore the possibilities for
modal shift.

Organisation
The Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management is divided into five directorates-general. The
Directorate for Freight Transport encompasses two inspectorates, two project directorates and three policy
directorates: Transport Safety, Transport Sectors and General Freight Transport Policy. Within the Infrastructure, Ports
and Intermodal Division of the General Freight Transport Policy Directorate, a small team is responsible for
combined transport policy. The team co-operates closely with a number of other Departments: Economic Affairs,
Housing, Spatial Planning and Environment, Agriculture, and Finance.
Regional organisations promoting intermodal transport include the Foundation for Combined Transport,
Rotterdam Internal Logistics, 5 Modes Distri Network, the Multimodal Transport Region Northern Netherlands and
the Multimodal Co-ordination and Assistance Point. In addition, an Association of Inland Terminal Operators has
recently been created in the Netherlands to standardise intermodal transport where possible and co-ordinate
developments.

Instruments
In addition to policies aimed at improving individual modes as applied by the (modal) directorates for transport
sectors, the specific intermodal policy instruments used to achieve the goals are:
– Stimulation of the development of terminals and transfer points (budget for rail infrastructure, e.g. the
Maasvlakte en Waalhaven rail service centre in the Rotterdam region).
– Expansion of the capacity of the inland waterway network (e.g. budget for canals such as Amsterdam-
Lemmer).
• Temporary subsidy arrangement for rail and inland waterway connections (connecting firms to the main
network).
• Stimulation of alternative transport systems for the future (studies and pilots on underground logistics
systems).
– Influencing the logistical behaviour of shippers (modal shift scans; “Transactie” scans for more efficient road
transport; subsidy for the start-up of a Promotion Bureau for Short Sea Shipping).
• Trial involving longer and heavier trucks for transport to and from intermodal terminals.
• Special lanes for trucks.
• Use of telematics and projects aimed at the prevention of empty kilometres.
• Promoting physical planning favouring multimodal accessible business parks.

Policy toolkit
Table A1 presents an overview of the different intermodal stakeholders and specific policies available to target
48 these stakeholders.

© OECD 2001
Annex 1

Table A1. Toolkit for intermodal policy fields

Government Government Transport service


Stakeholders as suppliers as physical Terminal Shippers/ providers
Policy of public planning operators producers (road, rail,
infrastructure authority shipping)

Subsidisation of terminal development X


Subsidisation for connecting firms to rail
and inland waterways X
Stimulation of R&D on new transport systems X X
Subsidisation of scans on modal choices
and logistic efficiency and campaigns to raise
the awareness of shippers X X
Pilot with longer and heavier trucks for transport
to and from terminals X
Special lanes for trucks X
Promoting physical planning favouring
multimodal business parks X
Subsidisation for demonstration of IT X

Research and development


Research and development funding is an important instrument. The Netherlands counts several research
institutes, although none is specifically for intermodal transport.
The Transportation and Traffic Research Centre (AVV) is positioned within the Ministry of Transport, Public
Works, Water Management on the knowledge side of the configuration formed by policy, knowledge and
implementation. The responsibility for developing policy lies with the central administration of the Ministry.
AVV is one of the biggest knowledge centres in the Netherlands in the field of traffic and transport by land and
water. In that capacity, AVV is engaged in the preparation and evaluation of policy under the auspices of the central
administration and implementation division of the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management. Other
tiers of government can make use of the knowledge that is available at the agency. AVV maintains close contacts with
institutes, universities, and private organisations working in the same field. The agency acts as a representative of
the Netherlands in international bodies that are involved in the development of knowledge and the dissemination
of knowledge in the area of traffic and transport. AVV delivers “asked-for” and “not-asked for” advice for the Ministry.
One of the tasks of AVV is the translation of fundamental/scientific research results to policy-relevant information.
The Directorate General for Freight Transport is one of the clients of AVV and decides upon the direction of the
research activities.
A new knowledge-centre was recently founded: Connekt is a public-private R&D centre for traffic and transport.
It incorporates three existing organisations: Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS-NL), the Centre for Transport
Technology (CTT) and the Projects Bureau for Integrated Traffic and Transport Studies (PbIVVS). Connekt provides a
forum where suppliers and users of knowledge and experience come into contact. When new knowledge needs
developing, this can be achieved via programmed research: at Connekt government, education/research and
industry participants collaborate to optimally develop and apply know-how. The Ministry of Transport pays half of
the costs of the Bureau. The other half is paid by the private sector. Examples of Connekt projects oriented towards
intermodal transport include:
• Integration of networks and interchanges.
• FAMAS (multimodal project aimed at the container terminal of the future).
• New product/market combinations for water and rail freight transportation.
As one of its principal users and contributors, the Directorate-General for Freight Transport is able to influence
the direction of the Connekt programme.
The Trail Research School is a joint post-graduate Research School of the Delft University of Technology, Erasmus
University and the University of Groningen. Trail started officially on 1 January 1994 as the Netherlands Research
School for Transport, Infrastructure and Logistics and involves the participation of specialist faculties of the
universities. There are currently more than 200 researchers active at TRAIL, with more than 100 qualifying for PhD
level. Twice a year, the Deputy Director-General of Freight Transport participates in a council to help ensure that the
research is geared to policy needs. Examples of Trail’s research programmes are the Freight Transport Automation
and Multimodality research programme and the Seamless Multimodal Mobility research programme, which both
comprise several studies. 49

© OECD 2001
Intermodal Freight Transport: Institutional Aspects
50
Table A2. Intermodal transport in the Netherlands
Defined as the share of container transport in total domestic and international transport

1986 1995 1996 1997

Million tonnes % intermodal Million tonnes % intermodal Million tonnes Containers % intermodal Million tonnes Containers % intermodal

Domestic
Tonnes road 364 – 398 – 386 17.8 397
Tonnes rail 5 n.a. 4 n.a. 4 1.4 35 4 1.6 40
Tonnes inland shipping 84 n.a. 84 n.a. 87 1.7 2 90 1.9 2
Total 453 486 477 20.9 492
International
Tonnes road 92 148 161 18 166 19
Tonnes rail 14 12 13 2 15 15 3 20
Tonnes inland shipping 154 144 149 6 4 160 7 4
Subtotal 29
Tonnes deep sea 195 209 203 28 14 216 31 14
Tonnes short sea 126 134 152 14 9 161 15 9
Tonnes pipeline 39 52 58 – – 59 – –
Total 620 699 736 68 776 74
Total (Domestic/International)
Tonnes road 456 545 547 17.8 3 573 37.7 7
Tonnes rail 19 17 16 3.4 21 19 4.6 24
Tonnes inland shipping 238 228 237 7.7 3 250 8.9 4
Tonnes deep sea 195 209 203 28 14 212 31 15
Tonnes short sea 127 134 152 14 9 163 15 9
Tonnes pipeline 39 52 58 – – 63 – –
1 072 1 184 1 213 70.9 6 1 268 97.2 8

n.a. Not available.


© OECD 2001
Table A3. Intermodal transport in the Netherlands
© OECD 2001 Defined as the share of non-road modalities in domestic and international and domestic container transport

1986 1994 1995 1996 1997

% inter- % inter- % inter- % inter- % inter-


Tonnes Tonnes Tonnes Tonnes Tonnes
modal modal modal modal modal

Domestic
Tonnes road (millions) 17.8 18.7
Tonnes rail (millions) n.a. n.a. n.a. 1.4 7 1.6 7
Tonnes inland waterways (millions) n.a. n.a. n.a. 1.7 8 1.9 8
Total (millions) 20.9 22.1
International
Tonnes road (millions) 6 18 19
Tonnes rail (millions) 1 13 1.8 8 2.1 9 2 31 92 3 41 102
Tonnes inland shipping (millions) 2 21 4.9 23 5.6 24 6 9 23 7 9 24
Sub-total 26 29
Tonnes short sea (millions) 9 14 21% 15 20
Tonnes deep sea (millions) 14 28 41% 31 42
Total 33 68 74

TEUs TEUs TEUs TEUs TEUs TEUs

Domestic
TEUs rail (“000) n.a. n.a. n.a. 86 99
TEUs inland shipping (“000) n.a. n.a. n.a. 147 161
Total
International
TEUs rail (“000) 123 181 218 262 308
TEUs inland shipping (“000) 191 495 573 640 697
TEUs short sea (“000) 862 1 486 1 618
TEUs deep sea (“000) 1 420 2 879 3 162
Total 3 212 7 103 7 714

Notes: n.a.: not available. Tonnes: metric tonnes. Tonnes rail: the total weight of goods lifted by rail during the given year. Tonnes inland shipping: the total weight of goods lifted by inland shipping. Tonnes
short sea shipping: transport over sea between the Netherlands and European countries. Tonnes deep sea: international transport over sea to countries outside Europe. Tonnes pipeline: total tonnes
per pipeline. Percentage intermodal rail: the total weight of unitised goods lifted expressed as a percentage of the total goods lifted by rail. Percentage intermodal deep sea maritime: total
of all container expressed as a percentage of total maritime traffic. Percentage intermodal inland shipping: the total weight of unitised maritime goods lifted expressed as a percentage of the total
of goods lifted by inland shipping. TEUs: loaded rail/inland shipping number of loaded TEUs transported by rail/inland shipping. International: import, export and throughput the Netherlands. Domestic:
with origin and destination within the Netherlands.
1. Intermodal transport is defined as the percentage of goods transported by rail in containers as a share of the total amount of goods transported in containers: 3% = 2 million tonnes/68 million tonnes*100.
2. Intermodal transport is defined as the percentage of goods transported by rail in containers as a share of the total of goods transported by inland modalities: 9% = 2 million tonnes/26 million tonnes*100.
Source : Verkeer Economische Verkenningen, 1998-2003; Beleidseffect Rapportage, 1998.

Annex 1
51
Intermodal Freight Transport: Institutional Aspects

United Kingdom

Policy

The Transport White Paper


The United Kingdom’s transport policy developed out of a desire to do something about the worrying trends that
were emerging from analysis of transport developments in the United Kingdom. The National Road Traffic Forecast
(Great Britain) of 1997, predicted that, if policies were not changed, traffic would grow by 46% and road freight traffic
by 29% by the year 2021. Over the past 20 years, road freight, as measured in tonne kilometres, had grown by 63%,
being responsible for the carriage of 65% of all goods. There was no indication that this trend would change. In
contrast, rail freight traffic fell to a low of 6% in 1994. Accompanying this growth in road traffic has been an increase in
the transport contribution to carbon dioxide emissions. Road transport is the fastest growing source of CO2 emissions
in the United Kingdom, the energy and industry sectors having succeeded in controlling their emissions of
greenhouse gases. It was clear that a new policy needed to be developed to address the problems that increased
congestion and CO2 emissions would cause, not least of these being higher costs to business, increased pollution
and the potential for more accidents and greater disturbance of communities.
The first Transport White Paper1 for 30 years was published in July 1998. “A New Deal for Transport” contains policies
and proposals aimed at creating a better, more integrated transport system to tackle the problems of pollution,
congestion, social inclusion and environmental impacts. The policies and proposals set out in the White Paper seek
to create a more sustainable transport system in the United Kingdom while at the same time ensuring that this
system is integrated across all modes of passenger and freight transport.
Integration is the key concept that runs through the United Kingdom’s transport policy. The White Paper outlines
four key integration policies; integration among different modes of transport, integration with the environment,
integration with land-use planning at national, local and regional level and integration with wider health and
education policies. In order to develop and implement specific policies and proposals, the White Paper made
provision for a number of follow-up (daughter) papers.

“Daughter” papers

• A sustainable distribution policy


Arising from the Transport White Paper have been a number of follow up papers intended to focus on specific
policy proposals more closely. “Sustainable Distribution: A Strategy”2 sets out how, through partnership among central
government, local government and the distribution industry, the United Kingdom will promote its policy for the
development of sustainable distribution systems. The document sets out an integrated approach to freight
distribution, making the best use of the entire freight infrastructure. It also highlights the significance of strategic
planning in integrating freight distribution infrastructure within the land-use planning framework and promoting
more efficient use of roads, railways, waterways and shipping lanes.

• A shipping policy
A new Shipping Paper3 “British Shipping: Charting A New Course” published in December 1999, sets out a long-
term strategic vision for the British shipping industry. This paper sets out policies designed to reverse the decline in
the British merchant navy and aims to more fully integrate British shipping within the country’s wider economic and
industrial aims. The paper also announced the intention of the UK Government to extend the Freight Facilities Grant
Scheme to coastal and short-sea shipping.

• The UK policy for intermodal freight


It is UK policy to promote intermodal integration. Better utilisation of railways, ports and shipping services is
considered to play a vital role in building a sustainable distribution system. Integration of the United Kingdom’s
freight distribution system can benefit industry, the environment and society. When effectively used, railways and
shipping offer a more energy-efficient and less polluting means of goods distribution. The transfer of goods from road
to alternative modes can also play a part in reducing congestion. These modes also have better safety records
than road. Industry can benefit through the provision of choice, greater competition and potential cost savings,
particularly on long-haul and international journeys. The United Kingdom’s vision is to see its entire freight
distribution network used as efficiently and effectively as possible, in a manner which supports the continued
economic growth of the country while at the same time minimising the impacts of distribution on society and
the environment. One prerequisite for such a vision is to ensure that freight can interchange between modes
smoothly, efficiently and with least cost – that the network is fully integrated. One of the foci of government
policy is therefore to improve the integration of the freight distribution system. Government objectives for
52 planning which are designed to promote integration are set out below. The government has also elaborated a

© OECD 2001
Annex 1

strategy for major freight interchanges and has tasked the Highways Agency and Railtrack to identify opportunities
for new intermodal freight facilities.

• A strategy for major freight interchanges


The government paper “Sustainable Distribution: A Strategy” sets out a national policy framework within which
major freight interchanges can be planned and considered. This policy requires that, in the planning and
development of ports, airports and rail terminals – whether new or modified –four key objectives are observed:
• To promote the contribution of major freight interchanges to national and regional competitiveness.
• To improve the operational and environmental performance of existing interchange facilities.
• To encourage full and efficient utilisation of existing interchange facilities in preference to expansion in cases
where suitable spare capacity exists or can be created.
• Where new facilities or expansion involving new land take are required, that the criteria established in the
United Kingdom for the appraisal of transport projects are rigorously applied.
This policy is being taken forward in the development of our ports and airports policy documents. The national
airports policy will outline proposals for air freight as well as passenger traffic.

• Memorandum of Understanding
In order to facilitate the integrating of the road network with major transport interchanges, the Highways Agency
together with Railtrack have established a Memorandum of Understanding. They are undertaking a joint assessment
which is intended to identify traffic flows large enough to support development of new intermodal freight facilities,
with the aim of transferring road freight to rail. The shadow Strategic Rail Authority will advise the government on the
strategic importance of future intermodal terminal development.

• An aviation policy
Currently being prepared is an air transport “daughter” document that recognises the increasingly important
contribution that aviation makes to the competitiveness and productivity of the UK economy. In conjunction with
other documents, one theme of the air transport document will be the importance of strategic planning in integrating
airfreight with other modes. New or expanding airport facilities require careful planning so that they are sited in the
most sustainable locations supported by quality links with other modes, while minimising intrusion to local
residents.

• A ports policy
The UK Government was to publish a ports policy paper in 2000. It will be the first such review for over 30 years
and will herald the start of a more proactive role for government through a “Ports Partnership” and improvements in
the regulation of ports within the framework of the Integrated Transport White Paper. The paper will promote ports
as multimodal transport and distribution facilities, encouraging domestic/coastal shipping, better use of rail links and
sustainable use of road links. It will reiterate the UK Government’s views on ports’ subsidies and its general support
for the EC Green Paper on Ports and Maritime Infrastructure.
A Ports Industry Liaison Group will be established by government to include the ports and shipping industries,
shippers, trade unions, local authorities and other relevant bodies in policy development and implementation.
Work is currently in progress to publish a Marine Operations Code for Ports. This will guide harbour authorities
on the use of their statutory powers in the safe operation of their ports. It will be a voluntary code but a reserve power
allowing the government to intervene in failing harbour authorities is proposed.
There are currently 617 ports in the United Kingdom, almost half of which are fishing ports. Container traffic is
handled at 25 of these; roll-on, roll-off services operate from 37 ports.

• An inland waterways policy


An Inland Waterways “daughter” document is being drafted. It will include proposals on maximising the use of
existing infrastructure and promoting the use of inland waterways for freight traffic. There are approximately
3 550 miles (5 700 km) of navigable non-tidal inland waterways in Britain. British Waterways (BW) is responsible for
about 2 000 miles (3 220 km), mostly canals; the Environment Agency about 500 miles (800 km), mostly rivers; and the
Broads Authority 125 miles (200 km). The remainder is managed by 30 smaller navigation authorities. Waterborne
freight survives on only a few waterways, mainly broad waterways managed by British Waterways. The annual tonnage
moved is less than 1% of the national total. 53

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Intermodal Freight Transport: Institutional Aspects

• A planning policy
Since 1988, the UK Government has been issuing guidance to local authorities and others on national planning
policies and the operation of the planning system in the form of Planning Policy Guidance notes (PPGs), Regional
Planning Guidance (RPG) and Minerals Planning Guidance notes (MPGs). RPG sets out broad strategic policies at the
regional level where there are matters which, although not of national scope, apply across regions or parts of regions
and need to be considered on a scale wider than the area of a single authority.
The main purpose of RPG is to provide a regional framework for the preparation of local authority development
plans. It sets out a broad development framework for the region over a 15 to 20 year period and will normally identify
the scale and distribution of provision for new housing and priorities for the environment, transport, infrastructure,
economic development, agriculture, minerals and waste treatment and disposal. However, in future, RPG will also
have a broader spatial role informing other strategies and programmes. In particular:
• By virtue of incorporating a regional transport strategy, it will provide the regional context for the preparation
of local transport plans.
• It will provide the longer term planning framework for the Regional Development Agencies’ (RDAs) strategies:
– An important measure contained within the Transport White Paper is the requirement for local authorities
to consider opportunities for freight interchange facilities. Draft Planning Policy Guidance (PPG 11)4 sets out
the scope of regional transport strategies and how they will be prepared.
– New draft planning guidance (Planning Policy Guidance PPG 13)5 provides advice to local authorities on the
preparation of their development plans and in determining planning applications, local authorities should:
• Where possible, locate developments generating substantial freight movements such as distribution and
warehousing, particularly of bulk goods, away from congested central areas and residential areas.
• Encourage development which is, or can realistically be, served by rail or water and development with good
(although where possible indirect) access to trunk roads and allocate appropriate sites.
• Promote sustainable distribution in developments and related uses which generate freight, looking at aspects
such as design, scale and location, taking account of guidance in regional transport strategies on freight
terminals, in particular multimodal terminals.
• Identify, and where appropriate protect, sites and routes, both existing and potential, which could be critical
in developing infrastructure to widen choices for both freight and passengers (such as interchange facilities
allowing road to rail transfer or for water transport) and ensure that any such disused transport sites and routes
are not unnecessarily severed by new buildings and non-transport land uses.
• On disused transport sites, consider uses related to sustainable transport first, before other uses.
• Identify, and where appropriate protect, realistic opportunities for rail or waterway connections to existing
manufacturing, distribution and warehousing sites adjacent or close to the rail network, waterways or coastal/
estuarial ports.

Organisation

Government
The Department of Transport was merged in 1997 with the Department of the Environment to form the
Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR)6 with the aim of improving the quality of life by
promoting sustainable development at home and abroad, fostering economic prosperity and supporting local
democracy.
The Railways, Aviation, Logistics and Maritime Transport Directorate-General brings together, under one
command, issues to do with the transport of goods.
The Railways Directorate develops and implements international and domestic rail freight policy, including
Channel Tunnel operations. The directorate is responsible for delivering one of the principal objectives of the
government – to increase the volume of rail-borne freight. Additionally, it manages the Channel Tunnel Rail Link
project (CTRL)7 which will provide a purpose built high-speed passenger and freight line for Channel Tunnel traffic
through the south-east of England.
The Aviation Directorate promotes a safe, competitive and environmentally responsible air transport system. It
seeks to improve safety standards both in the UK industry and worldwide and it plays a major role in facilitating an
increase in European airspace. It has a responsibility for airports’ policy, aviation noise and environmental issues and
it sponsors the Civil Aviation Authority. The CAA is responsible for protecting the interests of consumers, ensuring
that environmental objectives are pursued and achieved, and operating air traffic control.
The Logistics and Maritime Transport Directorate carries out several functions. It is responsible for policy related
to the road-haulage, shipping and ports industries. It aims to increase the contribution made by the British shipping
54 industry to the UK economy and environment. It is responsible for policy concerning the UK road-haulage industry

© OECD 2001
Annex 1

and the ports industry. It also provides a focus and wider policy framework for all the Department’s concerns and
activities relating to the United Kingdom’s national and international physical distribution systems. The Directorate
seeks to promote both horizontal (modal) and vertical (energy efficiency, environmental performance, economic
efficiency, land-use planning and social impact) policy integration. This role is cross-cutting since it seeks to
co-ordinate policies across the Department.

• Regional government
At the Regional level, Regional Development Agencies (RDAs), working through the Regional Government
Offices, have responsibility for preparing Regional Planning Guidance. This guidance must now include a regional
transport strategy. RDAs must ensure that such strategies consider the scope for promoting the movement of freight
by rail and water and provide a strategic steer on the role of airports and ports within their regions. Through this
mechanism it is expected that the ability of the planning system to promote more integrated and sustainable freight
transport patterns can be enhanced – the key to improved intermodal freight movement. This system is currently
being put in place.

• Local government
At the local level, it is the responsibility of local government to produce local transport strategies, a key
ingredient in the delivery of locally integrated transport. As part of their planning, local authorities will be required
to protect and provide opportunities for rail freight and inland water freight development in Local Transport Plans.

• Government agencies and other government bodies


Various agencies operate alongside DETR. Their remit is more specifically geared to individual aspects of
government policy:
• The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA)8 is responsible for the licensing of drivers in Great Britain,
the registration and licensing of vehicles and the collection of vehicle excise duty. This role assists in ensuring
that the road safety objectives of DETR are met.
• The role of the Highways Agency9 is to contribute to sustainable development by maintaining, operating and
improving the network in a manner which supports the government’s environmental, integrated transport and
land-use planning policies. The Agency’s primary tasks in carrying out this role are to develop measures aimed
at maximising the use of the existing network, to improve the quality of maintenance and provision of the
network, and to facilitate links with other transport modes.
• The Vehicle Inspectorate’s objective is to support improved road safety and environmental standards by
ensuring that motor vehicles are maintained to minimum statutory standards. This includes carrying out both
compulsory and random roadside checks on road freight vehicles. Such roadside checks also involve
inspection of vehicle tachographs and drivers’ hours.
• Great Britain is divided into six traffic area networks. A traffic commissioner heads each network and is
responsible for issuing operating licences for bus and lorry operating companies. Before an operating licence
can be granted, each company must attain specific criteria relating to financial standing, good repute and site
operating conditions (including safety and environmental impact).
• Strategic Rail Authority. Since privatisation of the rail network, the rail industry has lacked both a focus for long-
term strategic planning and a single organisation to ensure that standards are maintained and increased in
both the passenger and rail freight sector. In order to achieve this, the government is establishing a Strategic
Rail Authority (SRA)10 to ensure that the needs of both passenger and rail freight customers are met (the
organisation is already up and running in shadow form, pending the necessary legislation). The Strategic Rail
Authority will be a statutory body that will bring together passenger and freight interests, promote better
integration (passenger service and intermodal operations), promote rail freight and its infrastructure and
provide a clear strategic vision for future rail operation. The SRA will be responsible for reviewing the scope
for improving rail access to major UK ports in consultation with Railtrack11 (the infrastructure providers), rail
freight operators, port owners and shipping companies. In addition, it will work closely with local authorities,
regional planning bodies, regional development agencies, the Highways Agency and the equivalents in
Scotland and Wales to promote more effective integration between the rail freight sector and other freight
industries.
• The UK Government also established the Commission for Integrated Transport,12 a new independent body to:
– Provide objective advice to the government on the implementation of integrated transport policy.
– Monitor developments across transport and the environment.
– Review progress towards meeting transport objectives. 55

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Intermodal Freight Transport: Institutional Aspects

• British Waterways, a public corporation, takes a commercial approach to maximising the use of its waterways
and property, consistent with the needs of conservation and recreation. The Environment Agency is primarily
an environmental regulatory body which manages the navigation of its rivers as an integral part of its other
management functions. The Broads Authority manages the Broads together with surrounding land as a national
park, combining its responsibility for navigation with conservation and recreation.

Research agencies
Over the past 15 years, the UK Government has been in the process of privatising its research agencies.
Transport research is now carried out by independent research organisations which must bid for contracts through
competitive tender. The Department has an extensive research programme, spending GBP 49 million in 1999/2000
on transport-related research. Research is geared towards the development and monitoring of government policy. It
may be commissioned for a number of reasons: to monitor the impact of government policy; to provide information
which may be used to change existing policy; or propose new policy; or to provide information regarding the impact
of proposed policy, whether United Kingdom or European Union. The Highways Agency carries out research
designed to assist it in the implementation of its duties to maintain and provide the primary route network (trunk
roads and motorways). The government also funds programmes designed to promote best practice; such the Energy
Efficiency Best Practice Programme (EEBPP) and Powershift. The EEBPP provides advice on energy saving to all
sectors, including freight transport. Powershift provides grant aid to companies seeking to purchase alternatively
fuelled vehicles. The grant is designed to offset the difference in purchasing costs of new technology and operates
until a market has been established for that technology.

Parliamentary procedure
Within the UK Parliament, select committees are responsible for scrutinising the work of government
departments on behalf of the House of Commons. They advise on the procedures and domestic administration of
the House and submit their recommendations and findings in reports to the House. There are currently
16 departmental select committees that aim to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of government
departments and specified public bodies. The Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs select committee does
this for DETR and associated public bodies including the Office of the Rail Regulator. It currently has 17 members.

Private organisations

Rail
Railtrack is responsible for maintaining and improving railway infrastructure throughout the United Kingdom. It
has a duty to provide capacity for projected freight as well as passenger traffic level increases, allowing the rail freight
operating companies to take full advantage of the opportunities to transfer freight from road to rail. Railtrack has
undertaken feasibility studies to assess the scope for gauge enhancement on the major freight carrying routes. Work
has already been completed on the main route from North London to Glasgow, allowing the carrying of 9 foot 6 inch
containers.
There are two major rail freight-operating companies in the United Kingdom: Freightliner and English, Welsh and
Scottish Railway (EWS).13 Both are keen to fully exploit the possibility of gaining domestic and international
intermodal traffic. Recent investment by both companies has seen the construction of new container flat wagons
capable of carrying 9 foot 6 inch deep-sea containers and Thrall “Euro-spine” wagons to carry vehicle trailers over the
UK’s currently somewhat restrictive loading gauge.
EWS has recently introduced an intermodal service between Widnes and Seaforth (Merseyside) and the ports of
Harwich and Purfleet (Essex), via Wembley. There are additional connections to other London terminals. A train
service links Widnes and Seaforth to the rail hub at Warrington (Cheshire), from where overnight transits can be made
to the ports in East Yorkshire and Cleveland as well as to terminals in Scotland and South Wales.
EWS has also successfully completed a series of trials involving moving chemicals in lorry trailers on its
“piggyback” service. Eurospine wagons, which carry near-standard road tankers were used; they are loaded on to the
wagons using a crane or reach stacker. The chemicals were moved between Mossend and Seaforth and Mossend and
Wakefield on weekend journeys during July and August 1999. Cargoes included caustic soda, chalk slurry, bitumen
products and sulphuric acid.

Ports
Ports provide conservancy services such as pilotage and run commercial port activity within their jurisdiction.
Ports are either company owned (private control), local authority owned or are classified as “trust ports”
56 (independent bodies which have been established by and for the benefit of local communities).

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Annex 1

Instruments

Monitoring of government policy


The government has established indicators to monitor the success of its freight policy. Over the medium term,
Government policy is to reduce the freight transport intensity of the economy. Two main measures have been chosen:
• The trend in total freight tonne-kilometres and GDP growth. This tracks the overall transport intensity of the
economy.
• The trend in lorry vehicle-kilometres and GDP growth. This tracks the road transport intensity of the economy.
These trends are shown in Figures A1 and A2. In addition, the following indicators are also monitored:
• Energy consumption of road transport.
• Freight transport moved (tonne-km) by mode.
• Freight transport lifted (tonnes) by mode.

Freight intensity (total freight tonne-km) of GDP


Figure A1 reflects the relationship between freight tonne-km in the United Kingdom over the last 45 years and
the corresponding GDP growth. This measure can be used to assess the overall transport-intensity of the economy.
Apart from a period in the late 1970s when the start of North Sea oil production created a major new transport
demand, the growth in freight transport as measured in freight-tonne kilometres has tended to be slower than that
of GDP. This is not unexpected given the change in the balance of the economy away from heavy industry towards
the growing service sector.

Figure A1. Relationship between freight tonne-kilometres and GDP

Index (1980 = 100) Index (1980 = 100)


110 110

105 105

100 100

95 95

90 90

85 85

80 80
1953 1957 1961 1965 1969 1973 1977 1981 1985 1989 1993 1997
Year

Source: United Kingdom Government.

Lorry traffic intensity (vehicle-km) of GDP


Figure A2 reflects the relationship between lorry tonne-km in the United Kingdom over the previous 45 years
and the corresponding GDP growth. This can be used to assess the overall lorry traffic intensity of the economy. 57

© OECD 2001
Intermodal Freight Transport: Institutional Aspects

Figure A2. Relationship between vehicle-kilometres and GDP

Index (1980 = 100) Index (1980 = 100)


115 115

110 110

105 105

100 100

95 95

90 90

85 85

80 80

75 75

70 70
1957 1962 1967 1972 1977 1982 1987 1992 1997
Year

Source: United Kingdom Government.

Although the freight carried by road, measured in tonne kilometres, has increased substantially over the past
40 years as more tonnes have been carried over longer distances, the impact has been mitigated by increases in
average payloads carried by lorries. Heavy Goods Vehicle mileage intensity has shown a downward trend in the
United Kingdom since the mid 1960s.
The UK Government also collects a range of statistics regarding the transportation of freight by road, rail, sea and
inland water and through ports and airports. Table 4 in the report provides figures for the proportion of domestic and
international intermodal freight. These figures are incomplete because prior to 1996, the UK Government did not
collect specific information on containerised traffic moved by rail. Furthermore, the United Kingdom does not collect
data on the number of TEUs carried by inland shipping. Table A4 provides data on: tonnages of freight lifted by rail,
maritime and inland water services; the percentages within each mode that are carried intermodally; and the
proportion in relation to total freight that is intermodal (expressed as a percentage of total road, rail, maritime and
inland water tonnage).
Maritime tonnage makes up the greatest proportion of tonnes lifted, with 22% of total maritime freight being
intermodal. Despite a decline in total inland water tonnage, the percentage that is intermodal has risen. Expressed
as a percentage of total tonnes lifted, in 1997 intermodal transport accounted for 20% of all freight tonnes lifted.

Role of other government departments and stakeholders in the policy process

Government departments and stakeholders are involved at an early stage in the development of government
policy. Before all policies are developed, the government engages in a consultation procedure. A Green Paper is
published setting out the government’s intention to develop policy in a particular area and raising a series of
questions designed to elicit the opinion of stakeholders and the public in general. Additionally, seminars, workshops
and conferences are held to explore particular aspects in more detail. In the case of the Sustainable Distribution
Strategy, workshops were held to explore the issues of intermodal transport, safety and the environment. Other
government departments are involved in a formal procedure of consultation and may be asked to help formulate
parts of the policy where there are cross-departmental objectives. In the case of the Sustainable Distribution
Strategy, the Department of Trade and Industry, Treasury, the Highways Agency, the Traffic Area Network and the
Driving Standards Agency were particularly involved. The Cabinet Office is responsible for ensuring that all policies
58 are correctly integrated and take account of overarching government policy.

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Annex 1

Government actions

The UK Government is committed to extending Freight Facilities Grants to coastal and short-sea shipping as
stated in the Integrated Transport White Paper, the Sustainable Distribution paper and the British Shipping paper.
The grant makes inland waterway transport more attractive to industry by enabling it to compete more effectively
with road transport and thus allows businesses to have a viable alternative to transporting freight by road. The
White Paper referred to research that indicated that there may be potential to divert about 3.5% of the United
Kingdom’s road freight traffic to water (this includes coastal as well as inland waterways). In addition, the
government will consider applications for FFG towards the development of intermodal sites. This development is
also encouraged through Regional Planning Guidance, which should enhance the capability of our planning system
to promote more sustainable distribution patterns in the longer term as a link between central planning and local
transport plans.
The full guidance on provisional Local Transport Plans, which was published in March 2000, made clear that
inland waterways can play a valuable role in freight strategies and authorities are expected to consider opportunities
for new developments which can be served by inland waterways.
British Waterways support all initiatives to get more freight onto inland waterways. They welcome proposals to
extend the Freight Facilities Grant to short-sea shipping so that owners and operators such as themselves are able
to carry out improvements to the infrastructure of existing docks. There is also considerable interest on the part of
the Commercial Narrow Boat Operators Association for relatively low-intensity, but high-profile, freight movements
utilising the narrow and broad canal networks. There is also interest in using inner city canals to move construction
materials and waste, as already happens in London where barges move waste along the Thames to either landfill or
Combined Heat and Power plant.
The national road network has played a dominant role in the distribution of goods in the United Kingdom for
many years. However the idea of building more and more new roads to try to match demand is outdated and
ineffective. The existing motorway and trunk road network will be maintained and utilised to its optimum, while
improvements will be implemented to deal with congestion pinch points and to integrate the road network with
major transport interchanges in order to promote greater use of rail and water transport for freight. To aid in this, the
Highways Agency has a “toolkit” of measures designed to make better use of the network. Pilot studies have taken
place to assess greater use of crawler lanes on hills for lorries, multi-occupancy vehicle lanes and priority lanes for
public transport and goods traffic.
A common theme of all the aforementioned policy documents on transport in the last two years has been the
need for a clear, “joined-up” transport policy. Responsibility for implementing an integrated transport policy
designed to make intermodal freight operation a viable proposition lies with both central and local government.
Local authorities will set out their proposals for delivering integrated distribution and passenger transport over a
five-year period in Local Transport Plans (LTPs). In formulating their plans, local authorities will consult with local
transport operators, businesses and community groups. The plans will include future investment plans and propose
measures to meet existing and projected local transport needs, covering all modes. The plans form the basis of an
integrated approach to local transport requirements and by consultation with neighbouring authorities a coherent
regional and nation-wide policy.

Success
A coherent and integrated transport policy with a focus on intermodal integration is a new approach for UK
policy. The desire to see more freight transferred to other modes for all or part of its journey has only seen concrete
policy action in the last couple of years; consequently, it is difficult to determine the success rate at this early stage.
An important point is to question how success is defined. The level of rail-borne freight traffic in the United Kingdom
has increased by 16% since 1997, clearly a success for private freight operators and for the policy of encouraging the
transfer of freight to rail. In addition, three new intermodal terminals have been opened to cater for the international
rail freight market at Tilbury (Essex), Hams Hall (Birmingham) and Daventry (Warwickshire). However, it must be
recognised that rail freight still only accounts for about 8% of all freight movement and is unlikely to replace the lorry
as the primary mover of freight. This demonstrates that at this early stage there has been a success in this area, yet
there is still much scope for improvement.
As outlined above, the government has provided funding to firms in the form of a Freight Facilities Grant (FFG)
to encourage the movement of freight away from road and on to other modes. FFG is intended to assist with the cost
of investment in infrastructure required by alternative distribution modes, consequently averting one of the major
reasons for maintaining existing practices and being unwilling to adopt new ideas. FFG is currently available for the
development of rail and inland waterway operations, but there is scope for extending the scheme to short-sea shipping.
To complement FFG, Track Access Grant (TAG) was introduced in 1994. TAG is designed to offset charges made
for access to the network by the United Kingdom’s rail infrastructure provider, Railtrack.
Since 1996-97, grants worth a total of GBP 166.2 million have been awarded (Tables A4 and A5). 59

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Intermodal Freight Transport: Institutional Aspects

Table A4. Freight facilities grants

Awarded
(GBP million)

1996-97 2.5
1997-98 11.1
1998-99 9.5
1999-00 37.3
2000-01 50.0 Available
2001-02 50.0 for freight grants

Table A5. Track access grants


Awarded
(GBP million)

1996-97 79.4
1997-98 3.6
1998-99 10.3
1999-00 12.1
2000-01 50.0 Available
2001-02 50.0 for freight grants

Examples of grants given for intermodal traffic included:


• TAG – Freightliner awarded GBP 1.42 million to move more than 20 000 boxes containing components for
Jaguar’s Castle Bromwich (West Midlands) plant from the deep-sea ports of Felixstowe, Thamesport and
Seaforth.
• FFG – Freightliner has added low-deck “pocket” wagons to its fleet with the help of a grant of GBP 634 000,
allowing it to carry 9 foot 6 inch containers within existing gauge constraints.
• The Port of Felixstowe extended and improved its container-handling facilities with the help of a grant of
GBP 1.8 million.
• British Waterways has launched a project to transport domestic waste on the River Lea to an incinerator at
Enfield (North London). It is a partner in the North East Inland Ports project which seeks to identify freight
development opportunities and the provision of an intermodal transfer site for inland use. DETR’s partners in
this include Railtrack, Highways Agency and Associated British Ports (ABP).14
The success of local transport plans cannot yet be judged, as they are a new initiative but the programme should
be geared to delivering full LTPs in 2000. Implementation is a two-stage process. Local highway authorities were
required to produce provisional five-year plans by July 1999, covering the period 2000-01 to 2004-05. On the basis of
this resources were allocated from central government for the period 2000-01 only. Authorities then rolled their plans
forward by one year and submitted full plans for 2001-02 to 2005-06 in July 2000. London is not included in this
process since the London Mayor has a responsibility to produce an integrated transport strategy for London which
is consistent with national policy objectives. Once this is in place, London boroughs will be required to produce local
implementation plans in order to put the Mayor’s strategy into practice.

Key issues for the success of an intermodal policy


Although the United Kingdom’s intermodal policy is relatively new, several domestic and international issues
have already arisen that may be an impediment to continued progress.

International issues
For the United Kingdom, the single most important obstacle to the provision of commercially viable
international rail freight services in an expanding market is the inability of freight-train operators to gain unhindered
access to other countries’ networks, subject to general principles governing track access charges and train path
allocation. For these reasons, the United Kingdom supports the broad aims of the European Commission’s
infrastructure package and market access liberalisation.
There is a need for a greater degree of interoperability between different countries’ infrastructure and rolling
60 stock, together with a system which provides guaranteed international paths. Additionally, there is room to improve

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the efficiency of cross-border movements of freight trains with their train crew. Delays incurred at border crossings
damage the possibility of rail being relied upon over road to deliver goods on time.
The United Kingdom has used bilateral discussions with its French counterparts to maintain pressure on EWS
International, SNCF and Eurotunnel to improve cross-border freight services. Although technical barriers are
significant, a much greater barrier remains the issue of market access.
In addition to issues facing the development of international rail-borne freight, the issue of port subsidy is
significant to the United Kingdom. Europe needs efficient and integrated port systems to compete in global markets
and to encourage sustainable freight distribution through optimal utilisation of sea and inland waterways. The United
Kingdom will continue to support the EC Green Paper on ports and maritime infrastructure, which considers the
possible development of a regulatory framework, aimed at a more systematic liberalisation of port services, in order
to establish a fairer market. It is important to ensure that open access to the market is on the basis of transparency,
non-discrimination and reasonable charging.

Domestic issues
Domestically, the upsurge in rail freight activity may lead to track capacity problems and conflicts over track
access rights between some train operating companies and freight operators. In the next few years, many passenger
companies face franchise renewal negotiations. In order to make their case more attractive, it is likely that many new
services will be promised. The Strategic Rail Authority will therefore need to address the issue of how to ensure that
the infrastructure will be able to cope with this additional demand.

Training and education in intermodal issues


In the United Kingdom, training and education in freight distribution – whether road, rail or shipping – is carried
out either by the industry itself or through specific university or institute courses. Government officials obtain
experience either through one of these courses or through secondment to industry. Secondments from industry to
the civil service also occur, as a means of providing expert advice to the development or implementation of
government policy.

United Kingdom intermodal traffic – Further statistics


The definition of intermodal traffic used in Tables A6 and A7 covers all freight travelling by rail, road or inland
waterway in the United Kingdom that has been imported, or is destined to be exported, through a maritime port or
the Channel Tunnel.
Airfreight has not been included in the tables as the practice of “inter-lining” would misrepresent the true picture
of intermodal airfreight.

Table A6. Unitised/containerised tonnage imported or exported via


the Channel Tunnel, 1996
Excluding Eurotunnel “shuttle” services

Channel Tunnel Rail freight tonnes

Intermodal import 878 000


Intermodal export 698 000
Total 1 576 000

Source : Origin and Destination Survey 1996, p. 56.

Table A7. Unitised/containerised automotive and other tonnage


imported or exported via the Channel Tunnel, 1996
Excluding Eurotunnel “shuttle” services

Channel Tunnel Rail freight tonnes

All business import 1 355 000


All business export 979 000
Total 2 334 000
61

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Intermodal Freight Transport: Institutional Aspects

Table A8. Breakdown of inland water freight by type


Million metric tonnes of freight

1986 1994 1995 1996 1997

Internal 8 7.05 6.59 5.74 4.75


Coastal 12 11.16 8.98 9.25 8.19
Foreign 13 32.06 32.67 32.00 34.62
One-port 35 11.58 12.48 10.21 10.89
Total 68 61.86 60.72 57.20 58.46

United States
The US Department of Transport (DOT) was formed in 1967. The DOT includes all modes of transport.15 However,
it did not immediately lead to an integrated approach because the various modal administrations received their
mandate through the Congressional authorisations. An integrated intermodal approach was adopted in 1991 at which
time a policy on intermodalism entered into force with the enactment of ISTEA’91. The ISTEA’91 legislative mandate
was accompanied by an authorisation of funding of USD 155 billion over a six-year period, and was succeeded in 1998
by the passage of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) which authorised additional funding of
USD 217.5 billion for the period ending in 2003. ISTEA’91 established at the level of the Associate Deputy Secretary
of Transportation at DOT an Office of Intermodalism to co-ordinate the intermodal planning activities of modal
administrations. In a recent reorganisation of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA),16 a new Office of Freight
Management and Operations was established in 1998. This office has a wider freight productivity objective but also
deals with typically intermodal freight issues such as the establishment of an intermodal freight analysis decision
framework.
The federal government’s responsibility covers policy formulation, provision of limited funding support and
programme evaluation and monitoring, while state and local governments are responsible for policy, programme and
project implementation. The federal share of funding is limited to certain programme categories, e.g. pavements,
bridges, safety, congestion relief, public transit and intermodal facilities. In the National Highway System Designator
Act of 1995, the US Congress also authorised intermodal connectors as eligible for federal funding support. For
instance, 1 925 miles of road links between highways, rail yards, marine terminals and airports were deemed
essential to ensure a seamless national intermodal transport system. The potential of intermodal freight
transportation will depend largely on the ability of governments and industry to develop policies and programmes
that are consistent with the overall goals of improving national and international competitiveness, meeting social and
environmental concerns and addressing broader transportation needs regarding safety and security as well as
mobility and accessibility. However, it is important to draw a distinction between the types of governmental systems
responsible for various aspects of policy formulation and programme implementation. While large federal
government structures, such as the US Department and the European Commission, have transport policy functions
assigned to them under the US Constitution (commerce clause) and the European Union Maastricht Treaty
respectively, the EU’s subsidiarity principle assigns the fundamental right to EU member states to act independently
on major transport policy issues and projects. The federal conditions attached to programme and project funding
ensure, but do not guarantee, state and local governments’ compliance with proposed federal policy initiatives.
Some of the federal policy initiatives may flow from multilateral trade agreements, e.g. the North America Free
Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA), EU/TEP, APEC, WTO/GATS, etc., which
may require substantial funding support. State and local government entities cannot be expected to finance projects
which go beyond their immediate needs and benefit a larger group of stakeholders.
“Intermodalism” has been advocated by many stakeholders. In the United States, the Congress has declared in
the ISTEA, that: “the National Intermodal Transportation System shall consist of all forms of transportation in a
unified, interconnected manner, including the transportation system of the future, to reduce energy consumption
and air pollution while promoting economic development and supporting the nation’s pre-eminent position in
international commerce”.
The legislative standard was stated broadly and permitted a wide interpretation of the Congressional intent.
Consequently, a large number of stakeholders are involved in defining and advocating the respective interests.
Entities that have and continue to participate in the policy formation process include the following:
• Council on Competitiveness – which has advocated a reorganisation of Congressional Committee structure to
focus more effectively on intermodal transport issues.
• National Intermodal Commission – which advocated a reorganisation of departmental functions and
62 programmes in support of intermodal transport.

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• DOT Office of Intermodalism – which co-ordinates the freight related activities of the DOT’s commitment
modal administrations (FHWA, FRA, MARAD, RSPA).
• FHWA Office of Freight Management and Operations – which is developing a programme of freight
productivity, including many intermodal initiatives, in preparation for the next re-authorisation process.
• Intermodal Association of North America – which co-ordinates industry interests and sponsors conferences,
seminars and equipment expositions.
• Intermodal Marketing Corporations – which help shippers and carriers in finding the most appropriate and
least-cost intermodal transport solution.
The interest in intermodal transportation is largely driven by industry interests (shippers and carriers) to find
least-cost solutions to long-term transportation problems. The intense competition among industry shippers and
carriers to establish long-term contractual relationships automatically leads to a search for ways to reduce the
transport-related transaction cost for business. Most of the large shippers and carriers have corporate units
responsible for intermodal transport although they may call these units by different names, e.g. logistics management
or supply chain management, etc.
The United States Congress adopted the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act on 18 December 1991.
This Act made funds available for the development of the national transport systems for the period 1992-97. These
funds are linked in a flexible manner to various broadly defined programmes in the context of which financial
contributions are made to infrastructure projects (construction and improvement of roads, rail routes, tunnels, etc.),
the development of intermodal loading units which can be transported by all modes of transport, the reimbursement
of operating deficits for certain routes, and transport studies.
Exactly what part of the total amount (USD 504 billion) is intended for specific intermodal projects is not known
at a federal level. One of the reasons is that the projects which are eligible for federal support are selected by state
and local governments, in co-operation with private parties. With this, prioritisation of projects has been delegated
to the regional or state administrations and the local governments.
Following the enactment of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21),
US federal, state and local government agencies have undertaken studies to understand the needs of the private
sector, to monitor the intra-regional and international freight flows, to establish public-private freight partnerships,
to reorganise governmental functions, and to help finance missing links in and connections to the transportation
infrastructure networks.
The public sector has facilitated the development of the competitive transport market through the construction
of a vast highway network and the elimination of economic regulatory constraints, except those related to safety and
security concerns. While the infrastructure networks are essentially complete, except for critical connectors to
intermodal terminals, the challenge for the 21st century is to redefine the governmental response capability to meet
the evolving needs of the private sector which is competing not only in the domestic marketplace, but increasingly
in the global environment. The organisational effectiveness of governments will be put to the test as further trade
liberalisation efforts change the parameters (infrastructure) and variables (carrier operations) of the system. In the
United States, the challenge will be to further integrate the accomplishments of the North America Free Trade
Agreement and to extend the policies and procedures to the partners of the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas.
While the network is extensive and the expenditures significant, the need for further improvements has been
identified in the National Highway Designation Act of 1995 and a subsequent study detailing not only the gaps in the
network of approximately 160 000 miles, but also the critical connectors to the major intermodal terminals, that may
justify the expenditure of federal funds. The report identified connections to 1 407 terminals. These included
connections to 615 freight terminals, including 250 ports and terminals, 206 rail terminals, 61 pipelines and
98 airports. Approval of the connectors as part of the National Highway System is still pending. However, on a interim
basis improvements are eligible for federal funding.
Although the Federal Highway Administration has significant responsibility for guiding the investment decisions,
the principal responsibility for analysing, planning and implementing projects rests with the 50 State Departments
of Transportation, the 329 Metropolitan Planning Organizations, thousands of small cities, towns, counties and
special districts, which together number almost 80 000 units of government. Freight analysis, planning and
investment decisions are undertaken jointly in co-operation with affected government entities and private sector
stakeholders.
The DOT strategic goals serve as the framework for the implementation of programmes and projects aimed at
both passenger and freight transport. Each of the ten operating administrations has specific initiatives targeted at
the freight stakeholders, but these are not presented separately from the passenger-related concerns. This is
understandable, since maritime channels are open to both freight carrying vessels and pleasure craft, air traffic
controllers monitor both cargo aircraft and passenger planes, rail safety inspectors monitor both freight trains and
passenger trains, highways serve both the trucking industry as well as passenger car owners and buses. However,
each administration has targeted specific freight projects with budget commitments and performance indicators. 63

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Intermodal Freight Transport: Institutional Aspects

Prior to and following the establishment of the DOT in 1967, the various modal administrations have managed
their own research and development (R&D) programmes, responding to the particular needs of their own
constituencies both within and outside the department. While the mode-specific R&D activities provided a focus and
accountability, it made co-ordination and co-operation with other modal organisations pursuing similar objectives
difficult. With the enactment of ISTEA’91, DOT was required to submit annually a consolidated Surface Transportation
Research and Development Plan to Congress, detailing the common vision of a “One DOT” as well as the specific
project initiatives of the ten modal administrations. The first DOT Strategic Plan for 1997-2002 and Annual
Performance Plans also include the co-ordinated R&D programmes of each of the administrations.
R&D is considered one of the most significant cross-cutting topics within the DOT and it influences and
contributes to the activities of other federal agencies, other levels of government, the private sector, as well as the
academic and research community. The consolidated R&D Plan which is reflective of the broader vision, mission and
goal statements of the DOT, brings greater consistency and cohesion to the separate initiatives and ensures cost
effective use of the organisation’s resources. The Department’s R&D plan supports the five strategic goals as well as
three major categories of research needs, namely the administrations”:
• Operational missions.
• Regulatory functions.
• National needs.
The responsiveness to national need is met through the mandated functional responsibility to guide and shape
the public investment in the transportation infrastructure through the conditioned disbursement of trust fund grants
to other levels of government. The R&D programme is aimed at reducing the cost and extending the performance
and life time of infrastructure, as well as to stimulate and accelerate innovative private sector participation.
The R&D Strategic Plan identified six specific actions that the DOT will take over the five-year period to
implement an effective management programme. These actions are:
• Implementing a management process for several major public-private R&D partnerships.
• Improving the efficiency and effectiveness of DOT’s seven modal R&D centres and their programmes.
• Promoting the exchange of information on transportation R&D via an Internet “homepage” and tracking
system.
• Establishing technology-based public-private R&D partnerships in key areas of national and international
concern.
• Supporting multimodal-enabling research activities in areas such as human performance, communications,
modelling and analysis.
• Creating expanded education and training programmes for students, transportation professionals and the
general public.
Partnership initiatives have been identified in eleven areas, of which the first group of five represent existing
and well-established (and funded) programmes, while the remaining six require further definition and substantial
interagency co-ordination. These initiatives are as follows:
• Aviation Safety Research Alliance.
• Next-generation Global Air Transportation.
• National Intelligent Transportation Infrastructure.
• Next-generation Surface and Marine Vehicles.
• Intelligent Vehicle Initiative.
• Accessibility for Ageing and Disabled Populations.
• Enhanced Freight Movement at Domestic and International Gateways.
• Enhanced Weather Services for Transport Users.
• Physical Infrastructure Renewal, Maintenance and Monitoring.
• Terminal Security Systems.
• Transportation and Sustainable Communities.
All eleven public-private partnership initiatives have a direct and indirect impact on freight productivity. For
instance, under the research agenda for the next-generation surface and marine vehicles, the programme focuses on
a clean diesel programme for light and heavy trucks and seeks to apply advanced technologies and concepts to
improve dramatically the fuel efficiency of trucks while maintaining safety and performance characteristics. Specific
activities will address energy conversion and storage, emission controls, crash worthiness, light weight materials and
manufacturing technologies. The shipbuilding and ship structure programme is developing improvements in
64 commercial ship design and in shipyard facilities, processes and procedures. Another related effort is developing,

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Annex 1

testing and installing affordable, highly efficient, low-or-zero emission shipboard fuel-cell power and propulsion
systems.
Research towards enhanced freight movement at domestic and international gateways continues the
activities authorised under TEA-21, namely the National Corridor Planning and Development Programme and
the Co-ordinated Border Infrastructure Programmes. The process of moving freight is becoming increasingly
information-intensive, particularly for cross-border traffic, and advanced communication technologies have
improved the efficiency of moving freight. The partnership involves Canada and Mexico, as well as the respective
state and provincial governments, metropolitan planning organisations and private sector interest groups. The
partnership initiatives includes activitie such as demonstrations and pilot projects, technology applications and
assessments, system architecture and standards and information exchange among all partners and stakeholders. The
FHWA Office of Freight Management and Operations has the lead role in managing the R&D activities in addition to
the preparation of a comprehensive freight analys is decision framework.
Another element of the DOT R&D strategy which is particularly important to ensuring organisational
effectiveness over time supports the development and implementation of transport-related education and training
programmes. It calls for the continuing investment in the skills and abilities of the 10 million professionals and
workers responsible for designing, constructing, operating, maintaining and managing the national transportation
systems. The DOT has developed a comprehensive National Transportation Education Strategy aimed at all
institutional stakeholders and individuals seeking careers in the transport sector. One element of this strategy, the
Garrett A. Morgan Technology and Transportation Futures Programme, seeks to provide information about promising
careers in transportation to over 1 million students of all ages and to encourage them to improve their mathematics,
science and technology skills.
The National Transportation and Education Programme comprises four elements:
• Introducing transportation concepts in elementary and secondary school curricula.
• Collaborating with vocational schools, community colleges and industrial training institutes to enhance the
quality of instruction.
• Promoting the creation of transportation college degree programmes based on multidisciplinary curricula with
an international focus.
• Enhancing mid-career training opportunities for transportation professionals to stay abreast of the latest
concepts and technology.
Since 1987, the DOT has been investing in the University Transportation Centers (UTC) Programme, which
support a nation-wide network of ten regional university-based research consortia consisting of six to 12 universities
each. Each of the regional consortia focuses on the unique transportation needs of the region. The TEA-21 legislation
authorised USD 192 million for university transportation research over a six-year period. In addition to the UTCs,
every DOT administration maintains close relationships with a number of universities and colleges specialising in
research and training in the respective mode of transportation. The collaboration between the Council of Logistics
Management and Michigan State University (CLM/MSU) and DOT/FHWA was highlighted earlier in this report. Among
the more than 3 000 institutions of higher learning in the United States, many provide transportation courses in the
context of degree programmes in civil engineering, business management, public administration, economics and
international trade, urban planning, environmental science, among others.
Several DOT administrations also manage their own professional service academies, namely the US Merchant
Marine Academy (MARAD), the US Coast Guard Academy (USCG), the National Institute of Highways (FWHA).
Together these and other institutions provide the DOT with a readily accessible source of knowledge and ideas for
improving the effectiveness of the nation’s transportation agencies and organisations. Many of the faculty members
have also made significant multidisciplinary contributions. For instance, the US Merchant Marine Academy has
emphasised intermodal freight transportation as part of its Center on Global Freight Logistics. One of its faculty
members has published an authoritative textbook (now in its 4th edition) in co-operation with the Eno Transportation
Foundation, and in collaboration with other experts from the private and public sector. The 500-page book is not a
government document, but was published through the above-mentioned non-governmental organisation.
The DOT also supports the operation of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) of the National Research
Council, which is the principal operating agency of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of
Engineering. The complex originated with an act of Congress in 1863 as a private, self-governing body dedicated to
the advancement of science and technology and available to advise the federal government upon request. The TRB
fulfils its mission through the work of its 190 standing committees and task forces addressing all modes and aspects
of transportation, the publication of reports and peer-reviewed technical papers on research findings, the
administration of contract research programmes and special studies requested by DOT and the US Congress. The
TRB also hosts annual meetings which typically attract 8 000 professionals from throughout the United States and
approximately 10% from abroad. The TRB Executive Committee has extended invitations to foreign colleagues to join
as members or as friends on any of the technical committees or task forces.
A number of TRB committees deal specifically with multimodal freight transportation issues, such as inland water
transportation, freight transportation planning and logistics, motor vehicle size and weight, intermodal freight 65

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Intermodal Freight Transport: Institutional Aspects

transport, freight transport regulation, urban goods movement, ports and channels, freight transportation data, local
and regional rail freight transport, international transportation and trade, among others.
TRB operates an online computerised file of transportation research information available to all US and foreign
members and the public at large. The frequent interaction of transportation researchers and practitioners from the
public and private sector and academia in the context of committee meetings, panel discussions or special research
projects ensures a steady flow of information on best practices and leads to organisational effectiveness at all levels
of government.

European Union

Policy
The European Commission has clear goals to promote competition modes of transport and haulage services by
harmonising transport regulations. It also wants to create a European transport network by improving the
interoperability of different systems, make better use of existing infrastructure and internalise external transport
costs.
The initial competencies of the EC referred to the internal market and to the need to ensure the free provision
of transport services across the borders between EU member states. For many years, the EC’s transport policy was
modally oriented.
When the Community obtained competencies over infrastructure and environment, the insufficiencies of a
modal approach became more apparent than ever. In 1986, the Single Market Act gave the Community direct
competencies in the field of environment, requesting that environmental protection requirements become a
component of other policies. In the wake of the Single Market Act, and so as to develop the internal market, the Trans-
European Networks (TENs) concept was launched and made its way into the Treaty of the Union. This move upgraded
the legal status on which Community infrastructure support measures had developed through the 1980s. Thus, the
mainstream body of the Common Transport Policy, which sought a level playing field between the transport modes,
was joined by the TEN policy layer, which already included combined transport, and made the development of an
intermodal approach necessary. The need to integrate environmental considerations into transport policy could not
but reinforce this process.
This process was triggered by the evidence of capacity problems in the existing networks, and particularly in the
road and air transport networks. The implementation of the Internal Market and the run-up to European Monetary
Union have, among other elements, contributed to the rapid growth of freight transport and to an increase in the
length of the trips made.
The intermodal vision of the Commission has been consistently expressed by basic policy documents, starting
with the “White Paper on the Future Development of the Common Transport Policy”17 of 1992 where the
development of integrated transport systems was a priority. It was also a part of the Common Transport Policy Action
Programme (1995-2000):18 “Better integration of transport modes is essential. This will mean greater recourse to
environmentally friendly and energy-saving modes offering unused or potential capacity, more modal connections
and greater interoperability”. The need to promote intermodalism is also highlighted and progress is assessed in the
updated version of the Common Transport Policy rolling programme.19
The core purpose of the Common Transport Policy is to create a framework for sustainable mobility. Important
goals of EU transport policy are:
• The creation of a liberalised and efficient internal transport market, with competition between modes of
transport and haulage services, based on the necessary degree of harmonisation of national transport
regulations; basic components of this objective are the revitalisation of the railways and the liberalisation of
port services.
• The development of the transport Trans-European networks with the integration of national transport
networks into a European network by improving the interconnections and the technical interoperability of
different systems.
• The integration of transport modes from unimodal to multimodal networks, so that more efficient use is made
of the infrastructure; in this respect it is especially important to establish a common framework for the
allocation of the costs of infrastructure use, while respecting the subsidiarity principle and specific national
situations.
• To reduce, as far as possible, the negative effects that transport has on society, not only those on the
environment, but especially those produced by safety problems.
• Finally, to reinforce the external dimension of the Common Transport Policy, in particular in relation to
enlargement.
The policy objective behind the Commission’s action to promote freight intermodalism is shown in the
66 Communication on “Intermodality and Intermodal Freight Transport in the European Union”.20 It is the following: “to

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develop a framework for an optimal integration of different modes so as to enable an efficient and cost-effective use
of the transport system through seamless, customer-oriented door-to-door services, whilst favouring competition
between transport operators”. The integration of modes is addressed at three levels: infrastructure and transport
means, operations and use of infrastructure, and services and regulations. The main objectives of this
Communication are to identify existing friction costs in intermodal transport and to propose an action programme.
The most important areas of action relate to:
• The establishment of a uniform intermodal liability regime.
• Standardisation of loading units.
• The creation of an electronic commerce market for intermodal transport.
• Integration of intermodal transport in supply chains.
The Commission’s services are currently preparing a report on the progress of the implementation of this action
programme.

Organisation
At present, competencies on intermodal issues are split between different units of the Directorates of Land
Transport (Combined Transport) Trans-European Networks and Infrastructure (TEN of Combined Transport) and
Development of Transport Policy and Research and Development (RTD and the Intermodality Action Programme).
Within the offices of the European Commission, intermodal transport21 is handled by the Unit for Analysis and
Transport Policy Development of the Directorate for Research and Development and Development of Transport
Policy. Combined transport, as defined by the ECMT, is the responsibility of the Directorate of Inland Transport’s Unit
for Freight.
The Task Force Transport Intermodality was launched in 1995, in response to the need to stimulate and improve
the co-ordination of European research and to increase industry participation with the aim of bridging the gap
between the scientific and the operational world.
The Task Force is to reflect on how to move from a modal approach to an integrated door-to-door operational
approach. While doing so, the Task Force provides a focal point for the wide range of stakeholders who have an
interest in intermodal transport. The industry showed a need to launch demonstration projects to accelerate the
take-up of research results.

Instruments
The Community has also shown its commitment to the promotion of intermodalism in transport through the
legislation concerning the development of the Trans-European Networks,22 the promotion of combined transport23
and the Framework Programme for RTD.24
The Commission services (Transport DG), together with Eurostat, are working to increase the availability of
statistical data concerning intermodal freight transport, as witnessed by its recent publication on the subject.25
Comparisons of performance will also be facilitated by the benchmarking exercises now in preparation at the
Commission.

Liberalisation of rail transport


Some measures of liberalisation were addressed to combined transport (first road/rail then road/inland
navigation). The Community also allowed tax exemptions for road vehicles used in combined transport and state aid
possibilities for equipment and infrastructure terminals.
The market share of European rail freight has decreased in the past 25 years. According to the European
Commission, a lack of competitive forces is one reason for this development. The railways in most European
countries have long been state-owned. As result of government involvement and lack of competition, many railway
companies do not operate very efficiently and carry a considerable financial burden.
In July 1991, the EU issued Directive 91/440. This directive was intended to facilitate the adaptation of the
railways to the needs of the market and to increase their efficiency by:
• Improving the financial structure of the railway companies.
• Guaranteeing administrative autonomy to the railways.
• Separating the management and control of the railway infrastructure from the operation of transport services
by railway companies. Railway management is a public matter, railway operation a private one.
• Guaranteeing railway companies which perform cross-border combined transport right of access to the railway
nets of the EU member states. For unimodal freight and passenger railway transport, this right was only to be
ensured for international groupings of railway companies. 67

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Intermodal Freight Transport: Institutional Aspects

Progress in the implementation of the various parts of the European Directive varies across countries. The first
three aspects, which are of an administrative nature, have been or will soon be, implemented in the European
member States.
This right of access to the railway networks has not yet been implemented in all countries. In practice, rail
transport in all European countries remains exclusively in the hands of the national railways. If an intermodal
operator wants to set up an international line, he is obliged to negotiate with the railway companies of the countries
through which the route will pass. Since the locomotives of the railways in one country provide no service in other
countries, there yet to be any genuine competition on the rail tracks.
In the meantime, however, the first practical steps have been taken in the direction of competition on the railway
net in the form of “rail freight freeway” initiatives, according to a concept developed by the European Commission.26
A majority of EU countries have taken the first steps to open up certain corridors.27 On these freeways, intermodal
transport operators can select the most efficient and convenient rail transport supplier. The aim is to achieve better
quality in the services provided. The freight freeways are expected to usher in positive developments for the
European intermodal transport situation. To achieve further progress, a railway package28 put forward by the
Commission, and largely backed by the European Parliament, is in discussion at the Council. The package of
measures intends to achieve further progress in the fields of charging, capacity allocation, separation of infrastructure
management and operation and licensing. The price-quality ratio of rail transport is expected to improve once
European Directive 91/440 and the subsequent legislation29 has been implemented by the EU member states and
genuine competition can take place.
A point which needs attention for the large-scale introduction of competition on the rail tracks to be successful
is the lack of harmonisation in the field of technology and regulations. For example, it is not possible for conventional
equipment to cross a border if the overhead wire voltage or the track gauge changes. In the field of legislation, safety
requirements differ between countries. Ways of resolving these obstacles are actively being sought. In this sense, the
Directive on the interoperability of high-speed trains is a model to follow. Several countries consider that this lack of
harmonisation in legislation and regulations represents a major obstacle to the growth of intermodal transport.

The Trans-European Networks (TENs)

The Commission’s policy response to the recession of 1992/1993 and the subsequent rise in unemployment, was
the White Paper on Competitiveness Growth and Employment, which saw the TENs as an important instrument for
the achievement of economic growth and the reduction of unemployment.
Europe has an extensive network for transport, telecommunication and energy distribution. Since the adoption
of the Treaty on the Union in 1992, the Trans-European Networks programme attempts to further develop these
networks with activities aimed at linking national networks, improving interoperability and ensuring access to the
networks. In 1996, the Community adopted Guidelines for the development of the trans-European transport
network30 defining objectives, priorities and broad lines of measures, and identifying projects of common interest.
One of the stated objectives is to encourage intermodalism, and among the priorities listed are found: the optimum
combination and integration of the various modes of transport and the establishment of and improvement in
interconnection points and intermodal platforms. The Guidelines include maps and criteria for the identification of
projects of common interest belonging to the Combined Transport Network.
In the period 2000-06, EUR 4.2 billion will be made available for TEN transport projects through the TEN
transport budget line, up to EUR 9 billion through the Cohesion Fund, and from EUR 4 to EUR 6 billion through the
Structural Funds. The latter funds only provide support to regions and states whose development is lagging behind.
The amounts directly devoted to combined transport by these different funds are very limited. Of more relevance
are those devoted to railways that would reach 62% in the case of the TEN budget line, 16% in the case of the
Structural Funds and 23% for the Cohesion Fund.31 In the guidelines for programmes of the Cohesion and Structural
Funds for the period 2000-06, the Commission sets out its priorities, showing its concern about the current modal
balance and requesting that priority be given to intermodal and combined transport systems.
In the context of the transport programme, existing rail and waterway networks will be modernised and
expanded. It should be noted that the European Parliament introduced a rule in the regulation on TEN financial
support according to which at least 55% of the TEN transport budget line funds should be devoted to financing either
railways or combined transport projects, and that at most 25% could be used to finance road projects.
European infrastructure policy thus far lacks a coherent framework for terminal sites. The most important road
and inland waterway routes have been developed at the European level, but a vision on the location of junction
points has so far been left to the industry and to national and regional governments. Intermodal transport could gain
from a coherent TEN vision at the European level between industry and governments as to the location of important
junction points and as to clear criteria for the public funding of terminals. This is the purpose of an amendment to
the TEN Guidelines, concerning seaports, inland ports and intermodal terminals which is currently being discussed
68 by the Community institutions.

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Annex 1

Pilot Actions for Combined Transport (the PACT programme)


The European Commission started the Pilot Actions for Combined Transport (PACT) programme in 1992. The
general objective of this programme is to contribute to intensifying the use of intermodal transport wherever it is
economically feasible in the long term (as an alternative to unimodal road transport). The programme was set up to
supplement and support the activities related to the creation of the Trans-European Networks. Under the PACT
programme, feasibility studies of certain pilot routes are financed. In addition, PACT allocates funding for:
• Investments in intermodal equipment and transhipment facilities.
• Commercial operation of new technologies and techniques.
• Improving the accessibility of infrastructure.
Projects can be subsidised for a maximum of three years. If a project has not led to the desired results within the
agreed period or if it proves not to be economically viable, financial support is terminated.
The first PACT programme ran from 1992 to 1996. During this period, 99 projects received a total of nearly
ECU 20 million. The new PACT programme will again run for five years, from 1997 to 2001. The budget is
ECU 35 million for the entire duration. Certain aspects of the project organisation have been improved. For instance,
the new programme more strictly monitors the execution of projects, and specific objectives have been formulated
which can be summarised as follows:
• Improving the competitiveness of intermodal transport as compared to unimodal road transport, both on price
and on service aspects.
• Promoting the use of advanced technology in intermodal transport.
• Improving access to the sector of intermodal transport for transport companies; thanks to this, competition in
the provision of intermodal transport services will become more intense, which will benefit the
competitiveness of the sector as a whole.
The Trans-European Networks and PACT programmes have borne many fruits and are expected to continue to
do so in the near future. They are felt to be positive incentives to the development of intermodal transport.

Research
The relationship of the research and policy units is a two-way relationship: it draws inspiration from policy for
future research projects, and it provides results to be used in the design of policies. Research results are used in the
revision of the TEN guidelines and in the preparation of legislation on combined transport. On the other hand,
several tasks within the key action on “Sustainable mobility and intermodality” of the Fifth Framework Programme
relate directly to the different areas of friction costs identified in the policy-setting Communication on “Intermodality
and Intermodal Freight Transport in the European Union” and in its action programme.
The Community provides support to the development of intermodal transport through targeted projects of
research and technological development. The RTD activities of the European Community are basically organised
through the Framework Programmes. Transport research gained importance with the Fourth Framework Programme.

Fourth Framework Programme (FP4) for RTD (1994-98)


The Transport Programme of FP4 included 30 research projects aimed at the improvement of the quality of
terminals and of the network, in addition to two concerted actions, one on logistics and one on transfer points.
Results are used as input in DG Transport policy: preparation of the revision of the TEN guidelines, and the
revision of regulations and directives on combined transport. A close link has also been established between RTD
projects and the PACT projects (Pilot Actions for Combined Transport).

Task Force on Transport Intermodality


The “Task Force on Intermodality” is the instrument through which stakeholders from industry and academia
have been able to influence the content of the research programmes and the policies derived from them.
The core mandate of this task force was to improve co-ordination of existing and planned research activities as
well as to highlight priorities for future research. Founded in 1995, it set up round tables with international
associations of stakeholders in intermodal freight and passenger transport and produced a number of reports.
The task force has launched clustering activities with other research fields of the Community, in particular with
Telematics Applications and Industrial Technologies Programmes. On the basis of the task force activities, future
research requirements have been defined. The industry feedback showed a need to launch demonstration projects
in order to accelerate the take-up of research results. The task force is now being replaced with thematic networks
that will make the link between the European Commission, EU member states and industry. 69

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Intermodal Freight Transport: Institutional Aspects

The Joint Call on Intermodality, launched in December 1997, was another example of collaboration between research
fields (DG Transport and DG Information Society). As a result, the Commission launched 13 projects in autumn 1998
(eight of which dealt with freight transport).

Fifth Framework Programme (FP5) for RTD (1998-2002)


Research on Intermodal Freight Transport in FP5 can be found mostly in three key actions: Sustainable Mobility
and Intermodality (DG Transport), Land transport and Marine Technologies (DG RTD), and Systems and Services for
the Citizens (DG Information Society).
Inside the key action “Sustainable Mobility and Intermodality”, five priority areas of research have been defined
for the development of intermodal freight transport and logistics (resulting, to a large extent, from the works of the
Task Force on “Transport Intermodality”):
• Socio-economic scenarios for intermodal freight transport.
• Interoperability and transfer points.
• Intermodal transport management systems.
• Freight transport services.
• Transport of goods in and around cities.

Non-member responses
Responses received from the Slovak Republic and Slovenia are set out below.

Slovak Republic
The Ministry of Transport, Posts and Telecommunications has a dedicated section for combined transport. A
number of initiatives related to combined transport policies are currently underway. Under resolution No. 780/96, the
following issues are being addressed:
• The conditions for state contribution to the price of transport in the Ro-La system for the period 1998-2000.
• The transfer of customs clearance of complete trains to the dispatch and destination terminals of combined
transport.
• New organisational structures for commercial and operational activities in combined transport to help develop
international ro-la and ro-ro systems.
• To extend exemptions from bans on driving during holiday periods for combined transport operators.

Slovenia
Slovenia has signed the “Transport Agreement between the Republic of Slovenia and the European Union”, in
which it agreed to take all steps necessary to develop and promote combined transport and ensure that in the future
all transport operations are performed under more environmentally friendly conditions.
The “National Programme for the Development of Rail Transport Infrastructure”, adopted in 1995, provides for
the development and modernisation of railway lines which complement the existing railway transport system, and
for the modernisation of facilities and equipment in terminals. Slovenia provides financial support, fiscal incentives
and exemptions for combined transport.

70

© OECD 2001
Annex 2

Annex 2
INTERMODAL FREIGHT TRANSPORTATION ADVISORY GROUP

Chairman: Fred Heuer (The Netherlands)

Members of the Sub-Group on Assessing the Institutional Aspects of Intermodalism


Garry Tulipan (Canada)
Brigitte Parent (Canada)
Miroslav Kubasek (Czech Republic)
Shunsuke Otsuka (Japan)
Yuri Fursusawa (Japan)
Shinri Sone (Japan)
Yosuke Wakabayashi (Japan)
Marjolein Masclee (Netherlands)
Henriette Noordhof (Netherlands)
Matthias Rinderknecht (Switzerland)
Elizabeth McDonnell (United Kingdom)
Kevin Swarbrick (United Kingdom)
Harry Caldwell (United States)
Vincent Pedret-Cusco (European Commission – DGVII)
Bert Schacknies (US/DOT/FHWA)
Anthony Ockwell (OECD Secretariat)
Maj Theander (OECD Secretariat)
John White (OECD Secretariat)

71

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Intermodal Freight Transport: Institutional Aspects

Notes

1. www.detr.gov.uk/itwp/index.htm
2. www.detr.gov.uk/itwp/susdi st/index.htm
3. www.shipping.detr.gov.cnc. index.htm
4. www.planning.detr.gov.uk/c onsult/ppg11/2.htm
5. www.planning.detr.gov.uk/c onsult/ppg13/index.htm
6. This document contains hotlinks to DETR and other Web site addresses. These will show in blue when viewed
using Word 97 or above and the optional hyperlink setting is active. www.detr.gov.uk
7. www.railways.detr.gov.uk/ctrl /rotemap.htm
8. www.dvla.gov.uk
9. www.highways.gov.uk
10. www.sra.gov.uk
11. www.railtrack.co.uk
12. www.cfit.gov.uk
13. www.ews-railway.co.uk
14. www.abports.co.uk
15. www.dot.gov
16. www.fhwa.dot.gov
17. “The Future Development of the Common Transport Policy”, COM(92)494 of 2 December 1992.
18. “The Common Transport Policy Action Programme 1995-2000”, COM(95)302 of 12 December 1995.
19. “The Common Transport Policy. Sustainable Mobility: Perspectives for the Future”, COM(98)716 of
21 December 1998.
20. COM(97)243 final of 29 May 1997.
21. Defined as any combination of at least two modes of transport.
22. Decision No. 1692/96 on the Community Guidelines for the development of the trans-European transport network,
Official Journal L228 of 9 September 1996.
23. Regulation (EC) No. 2196/98 of 1 October 1998 concerning the granting of Community financial assistance for
actions of an innovative nature to promote combined transport, Official Journal L 277 of 14 July 1998.
24. Decision 182/1999/EC of 22 October 1998 concerning the 5th Framework Programme for RTD (1998-2002), Official
Journal L49 of 25 February 1999.
25. “Intermodal Freight Transport: Key Statistical Data 1992-1997”, OOPEC 1999, Luxembourg.
26. A strategy for revitalising the Community’s railways, COM(96)421 final of 30 July 1996.
27. North-South (the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy), Scanways (3 EU Nordic countries and Norway),
Belifret (Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Italy, Spain). United Kingdom-Sopron (still under discussion) will link
United Kingdom to Hungary.
28. COM(98)480 final of 22 July 1998.
29. Directives 95/18 on operating licences, and 95/19 on allocation of capacity and pricing, as well as the railways
package in discussion.
30. Decision No. 1692/96/EC of 23 July 1996.
72 31. Communication on “Cohesion and Transport”, COM(98)806.

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