Port and industrial cities are strongly affected by the freight and logistics sector. Also areas with intense construction works are seriously congested with heavy cargo traffic. Therefore, managing freight traffic should be part of an overall transport Master Plan and ought to be included in the overall policy of each city.
To achieve this, it is necessary to produce best practice guidelines to better monitor and manage urban freight flows (for example, consolidation centres, size of vehicles in old centres, regulatory limitations, delivery windows, unused potential of transport by river). Also, it is necessary to define a strategy for moving towards ‘zero-emission urban logistics’, bringing together aspects of land planning, rail and river access, business practices and information, charging and vehicle technology standards. The optimization of national rail freight transport has significant chances of efficiency. EU policies on interoperability and noise reduction are mandatory and stimulate Member States to achieve these objectives.
A significant amount of investments will be necessary to expand the capacity of the railway network. Rail freight may grow by an additional 360 billion tonne-kilometres by 2050, that is, an 87% increase relative to 2005. Rather than building new lines, many objectives can be achieved by modernising the existing network and increasing speed (especially in the east of the EU) by introducing the ERTMS, creating city by-pass routes, creating side tracking lines and terminals for 800 to 1,000 long trains and increasing the maximum loads on main corridors.
EU policies cannot impose to every European city the way in which it should organise urban logistics. However, there are several cities which can boast with innovating ideas of rethinking urban logistics.
Within CIVITAS II, the cities analysed the effects of urban freight transport and implemented measures aimed at reducing the negative effects of freight transport inside the cities. Within this project, six cities implemented measures concerning the logistics and the sustainable distribution of goods. Thus, the city of Burgos (Spain) implemented a new goods distribution, La Rochelle (France), the city logistics strategic extension, customers’ services associated to goods distribution and the development of partnership with logistics operators. Malmo (Sweden) granted freight driver support, while Norwich (United Kingdom) has customised traffic & travel information service for freight operators and urban transhipment centre. Preston (United Kingdom) applied city logistics partnerships and strategic planning and freight routing, signing, etc., while Venice (Italy) implemented clean urban logistics. But maybe the most relevant measure is the CarGoTram project from Dresden where the German company Volkswagen carries all equipment from and to the plan with the CarGoTram, the freight tram.
Although not part of CIVITAS II, other two projects, just as interesting, are also worth mentioning. A pilot project in the Netherlands on night delivery with certified silent equipment has considerably reduced time and costs: one hour for 35 km and EUR 35,000 per truck/year with a very high acceptability level from the company. In Paris, a regional RER line is used for goods transport by a chain of supermarkets. We would also have to mention the freight bicycles used for cargoes of up to 158 kg in seven cities of France and other two European countries, among which Romania too.