URSA MAJOR neo Intermodal Freight Transport Workshop.

This event took place in Verona, Italy on 7th and 8th May. Most of the participants in the event were from within the partnership of the EU backed URSA MAJOR neo project, which has a strong focus on the development of freight corridors running North to South, from Sweden as far as Sicily. Like the EU-EIP East-West corridor project, the URSA MAJOR one has a strong ITS content.

The second day’s programme was run at the Interporto Quadrante Europa, a massive inland port facility located at the crossroads of major road and rail highways providing connections between the Baltic and Mediterranean Seas as well as services to and from Atlantic and Adriatic Ports.

The IEA made a presentation there on behalf of the EU-EIP project on the intermodal freight route planner, seeking to demonstrate its value in planning end to end freight movements throughout Europe and even further afield. Also, within the segment on intermodal freight transport there were presentations on the ITS (intelligent Transport Systems) aspects of the Hupac and Kombiverkehr multimodal but primarily rail- based operations. Speaking about the use of ITS and other developments driving efficiencies in Ports, were representatives of the Ports of Hamburg, Rotterdam and Swinoujscie.

The Rotterdam presentation focused very much on developments at and around the port to enable it to handle traffic being shipped in and out on vessels capable of carrying up to 22,000 TEU’s (twenty-foot equivalent containers). Of particular interest from an Irish point of view was the development of the Port Shuttle system that will enable containers to be exchanged between the four deep-sea terminals in the port as well as the Home terminal. This operation should allow feeder vessels to sail to and from a single terminal and have the containers distributed by rail, rather than having to call at more than one terminal. If this works as it should it would mean that a vessel could carry a mix of deep-sea and short-sea containers from an Irish port to Rotterdam within a fixed schedule.

A further significant presentation was made by Gzim Ocakoglu of the EU’s DG MOVE division. He spoke about the Commission’s policies and work in the areas of ITS and the digitalization of freight movement within the Community. A significant part of this work relates to the implementation of Single Windows systems involving all actors in the supply chain.

Howard Knott