The reasons for choosing or promoting a certain way of transporting goods are dependent on a
multitude of factors. Shippers will be interested in reliable logistics and low cost, while
authorities are in general more concerned with relieving congestion and minimizing the
environmental impact of transport in general.
Historically, transport analysts have mainly focused on either economic or environmental
aspects, but have hardly ever joined the two. This thesis aims to achieve an integrated
approach to the assessment of transport, in this case focused on intermodal chains at a micro
level. This means we focus on the performance of the entire intermodal logistic chain – as a
whole – and not on the performance of each transport mode.
During the three last years, we have participated in the European funded 6th framework
project CREATING, where we have been the leader of the work package in charge of the
To achieve this task, we developed an integrated assessment framework that can translate
quantitative and qualitative values into a single performance indicator.
This model is implemented in usable software, quite easily understandable by the users.
The impacts considered in the integrated assessment framework are related to various
performance areas: the economy, the environment, the logistics and the safety.
The logistics and the safety are directly taken in charge by the software while the economy
and the environment require the use of an underlying model developed by colleagues from
Delft University, working in close relation with the model developed within this thesis:
LODA stating for Logistic Optimization and Decision Aiding. The ‘Delft’ model provides
outputs related to the costs and the environmental impacts of transport chains based on
technical aspects of transport means. These outputs are directly imported in LODA to perform
the integrated evaluation.
A list of indicators is elaborated for each performance domain. After a first aggregation step,
the model provides four global indexes presenting the performance of transport projects
related to the four above-mentioned fields. These four aggregations are realized by means of a
multicriteria decision aiding method named PROMETHEE stating for Preference Ranking
Organization Method for Enrichment and Evaluation and other aggregation methods such as a
sum and an average.
Then, a final indicator provides the global performance of transport projects by aggregating
the indexes into one global score by using the PROMETHEE method. This single indicator
makes possible to rank the scenarios on the basis of the aggregated performances.
In addition, it is possible to test the robustness of the ranking on the basis of different weights.
The assessment framework developed in this thesis is demonstrated by means of cases under
evaluation in the CREATING project.
The first case covers the transport of cargo from Germany to South-Eastern Europe by road
and by intermodal scenarios featuring RORO (stating for Roll-on / Roll-off) waterborne
transport along the Danube. This case highlights the major benefits of an intermodal transport
compared to an ‘all-road’ transport regarding the pollution, the reduction of accidents as well
as the positive impacts on the costs and the logistics.
The second case revolves around the transport of biomass on a lake in the Paijanne area in
Finland. The woodchips are used as an important source of energy by a local power plant
which plans to increase its activity in the coming years. The increase demand of biomass will
generate a lot of traffic which can not be absorbed by the only road transport. So, regarding
the lake system, the waterborne transport alternative could be an efficient solution to ensure
the sustainable development of biomass transport in that area.
The third case is dedicated to the study of conditioned banana transport (temperature
controlled and kept under an atmosphere with reduced amounts of oxygen). The bananas
arrive in Antwerp, from South America, by seagoing reefer ships and have to be transported
to ripening houses in Strasbourg. This transport is currently realized by truck. The impacts of
intermodal transport alternatives are studied and show that intermodal transport can perform
better than an ‘all-road’ transport.
Finally, the integrated assessment framework is applied to the transport of chemicals over the
inland waterways in the Netherlands. This transport is currently done by single hulled ships
which need to be replaced by double hulled ships in the near future while the transport by
road could take a slight shortcut. Once again, the model demonstrates the competitiveness of
The above-mentioned cases highlight the possible application of our model in real conditions
while possible further developments can be identified regarding the internalization of external
transport impacts. On the basis of the case studies, it appears that intermodal transport
represents a pertinent alternative to ‘all-road’ transport allowing a better ‘modal balancing’.