The simplification of freight and transport information exchange could substantially reduce the cost of multimodal transport. This concerns in particular the possibility for economic operators to provide information only once – in electronic form – (“single window”) and to have the goods and vehicles controlled only once and at the same place (the much-debated “one stop administrative shop”). Such development will require connecting and completing the networks for the exchange of information between administrations and for facilitating the access to this information by businesses.
This measure of a paper-free, electronic flow of information associating the physical flow of goods with a paperless trail built by ICT includes the ability to track and trace freight along its journey across transport modes and, in line with the EU competition rules, to automate the exchange of content-related data for regulatory or commercial purposes. This will be made more practical and affordable by emerging technologies such as radio frequency identification (RFID) and the use of global satellite navigation systems such as Galileo.
Freight should be identifiable and locatable regardless of the mode it is transported on in the European Union. A necessary condition for this is that standard interfaces within the various transport modes are put in place and their interoperability across modes is assured. The European Commission has announced that it would create the appropriate legislative framework for the deployment of tracking and tracing technologies and other technological components contributing to the e-Freight concept, while ensuring the appropriate technical security for the protection of personal data and the compliance with data protection legislation.
At present, the different modes of transport use different transport papers, a situation that generates administrative costs for multimodal transport and puts it in an uncomfortable position compared to unimodal transport. Consequently, to promote multimodal transport, it is essential to create a single transport document for the transport of freight regardless on the transport mode. In the general context of electronic freight transport 114, the single transport paper will be digital. Since transport papers mostly reflect the legal framework which applies to the freight transport contract, these two actions should be treated together. To adopt a single transport document, the related liability regime should be created.
The current weaknesses and gaps in liability regimes are both within sectors and across sectors. The absence of a European liability regime for relations between railway undertakings and infrastructure ma-
nagers represents a barrier to the entry on the rail market by operators of other member states. Liability regulations have generally been elaborated along modal lines generating significant additional costs between two or more transport modes.