The use of rail transport as part of the supply chain in an urban logistics context
Faculty of Applied Economics
Lisbon , 2010
12th World Conference on Transport Research, Lisbon, 11-15/7/2010
University of Antwerp
In Western Europe, the rail freight industry has been liberalized during recent years. The number of actors multiplies, the network connections of railroad and intermodal logistics companies grow and new actors enter the market. A directive called for separated accounting structures between the network provider and the operational activities. The right to privately operate, at first international and afterwards national freight trains came later. The liberalization had a major impact on the former state-owned monopolistic rail companies (the incumbents) and logistics actors calling at them. New market possibilities arose, but more actors now need to collaborate. This paper explores new logistics concepts in Western Europe, involving rail transport, now being in the trial - or investigation phase. This paper deals with the use of rail transport as part of the supply chain in an urban logistics context. The link will be made between two research subjects: the economic and ecologic viability of rail or intermodal transport, and the logistics capacity problems in an urban context, the latter of which is a growing research stream. First, a brief overview of the European railway market will be given. The difference between the European short-distance rail freight organization and American short-haul services will be described. Second, the concept of a new smart supply chain involving rail, developed by Deketele et al., will be given. The theory of the concept was put in to practice in Belgium by Procter and Gamble. This will be highlighted shortly. Afterwards, the concept of the modern supply chain involving rail will be compared to the actual supply chain of the French retail group Monoprix. The Monoprix supply chain will be discussed in the framework developed by Deketele et al. The actual French logistics bottlenecks, modal split, important legislation and outcomes will be treated. Results of the Monoprix supply chain will be given. Finally, conclusions will be drawn. Rail transport is hardly used in supply chains nowadays. In contrast, European governments set policy goals regarding non-road freight transport modes. Making the total supply chain more sustainable means decreasing road transport usage. Rail transport is being looked at as a solution for road traffic congestion problems. The modal share of rail transport in Europe declined the last decades to less than 15%. The authors assume that the results of this project, specifically highlighting best practices, can change the thinking pattern of supply chain executives.