Regional Intermodal Transport Systems : Analysis and Case Study in the Stockholm-Mälaren Region

Abstract: The global trend of urbanization is evident and also valid in Sweden and for the Stockholm-Mälaren region, also referred to as the Mälaren valley, a region consisting of metropolitan Stockholm and areas around the lake of Mälaren. In this context, efficient urban freight transportation has emerged as essential for sustainable development of urban areas. Geographic regions are being expanded due to the fact that rapid transport options have expanded the range of action of people and businesses. Metropolitan regions require freight transports that are often categorized by an inflow of consumables and an outflow of waste and recyclable material. Within urban areas there are ports, terminals and storage facilities that require incoming and outgoing transport. Altogether, these shipments have led to increased congestion on the road network within urban areas, which is a contributing factor to why a shift to intermodal land transports have been advocated both in Europe and in Sweden, thus encouraging more freight to be moved from road to rail. Another contributing factor is the relatively low impact on the environment generated by rail transportation. Efficient use of resources and low emissions of greenhouse gases are factors that are in favor of the train as a transport mode.Furthermore, conventional rail freight is commonly competitive on long distances and in end-point relations between two nodes. However, an intermodal liner train, as a transport system for freight differs from conventional rail freight transport systems, as it similar to a passenger train makes stops along the route for loading and unloading. Due to the stops made at intermediate stations it enables the coverage of a larger market area. For regional or inter-regional relations, the concept has the potential of reducing drayage by truck to and from intermodal terminals and to make rail freight competitive also over medium and short distances.The main aim of this thesis project has been to analyze under which conditions a combined transport system with the railway as a base can be implemented in the Stockholm-Mälaren region. Based on a case study for a shipper distributing daily consumables in the region, the feasibility of creating a regional rail freight transport system has been evaluated.This study provides a methodology for evaluating the feasibility, regarding costs and emissions, of concepts and technologies within freight transportation chains. This has been accomplished by the development of a cost modal, Intermodal Transport Cost Model (ITCM). From the results of the case study one can conclude that a regional rail based intermodal transport system regarding costs is on the threshold of feasibility in the studied region. As for emissions, all evaluated intermodal transport chains contribute to a significant decrease in CO2 emissions compared to unimodal road haulage. The loading space utilization of the train and the transshipment cost are the most critical parameters. The latter restricting the competitiveness of intermodal services to long distances as it is not proportional to transported distance but rather to the utilization rate of resources. Hence, the concept of cost-efficient small scale (CESS) terminals is introduced in this study.A main prerequisite in order to make the intermodal liner train efficient is a stable and balanced flow of goods with optimized loading space utilization along the route. As the objective is to consolidate small flows, imbalances along the route will constitute an obstacle for the liner train to be competitive. Thus regarding loading space utilization it is necessary to consolidate other freight flows in the train in order to achieve high loading space utilization and a balanced flow along the route. The third parameter which is critical for the results are the fuel prices, where a sensitivity analysis of the results shows that if diesel prices would increase so would the feasibility of the intermodal option. The same is also valid for train length increase as long as the loading space utilization is maintained.The results of the feasibility study indicate that the evaluated transshipment technologies are closing the gap for intermodal transport to unimodal road haulage regarding transport cost over short- and medium distances and that they contribute to a substantial reduction of CO2 emissions. However, it is essential that also the transport quality is ensured, especially regarding reliability and punctuality. Thus a demonstration project is recommended as these aspects require operational testing. This is particularly crucial regarding novel transshipment technologies.