Analysing the Role of Rail in Urban Freight Distribution

TitleAnalysing the Role of Rail in Urban Freight Distribution
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsDe Langhe, K
EditorKersten, W, Blecker, T, Ringle, CM
Title of ProceedingsNext Generation Supply Chains
Conference LocationHamburg
ISBN Number978-3-8442-9879-6; 978-3-7375-0340-2
ISSN NumberISSN (print) 2365-4430, ISSN (online) 2365-5070
Keywordscity, rail transport, social cost-benefit analysis, urban freight distribution

Many different types of goods are transported to and delivered in cities,
resulting in some urban freight challenges, such as increased vehicle
movements within the city, collection of waste and one-way traffic flows towards
the city. The growing urbanisation is expected to generate extra transport
movements too. The European Transport White Paper states that national
governments should try to implement policies to optimise freight transport in
and around the city (European Commission, 2011). One option to do this is by
using more sustainable transport modes. In that context, this research
examines the potential role of rail in urban freight distribution, which was once
important. Firstly, several existing cases of urban freight rail are discussed and
compared. This results in the identification of success and failure factors.
Secondly, a typology of cities and freight is set up. Thirdly, a conceptual cost
model to estimate the potential of rail transport in urban freight distribution is
proposed. The approach of this research consists of literature review and an
expert meeting amongst academic and industry experts. The findings show that
some relevant cases of urban freight rail exist in which different cities are
involved. Knowledge of the different city and freight characteristics as well as
the main success and failure factors is crucial. An appropriate methodology for
assessing the potential of rail for urban freight distribution is a combination of
stated and revealed preference and a social cost-benefit analysis.