Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


SAFE-CTS Report Summary

Project ID: 698669

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - SAFE-CTS (Efficient and cost-effective intermodal road-rail container freight system)

Reporting period: 2015-12-01 to 2016-11-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

There is an urgent need for a change in the European (and global) freight transport and logistics industry. Road transport is presently still the preferred mode of freight transport in the EU. In 2012, road transport accounted for >79% of the total cargo in EU, representing 92% of the external costs (costs for the society caused by pollution, accidents, congestions, etc.). Hence, there is a very high potential to improve the sustainability and performance of freight transport by moving road-based transport towards more sustainable transportation means, such as rail.

At the same time, the market for freight solutions is significant and growing. Frost and Sullivan estimates total European revenues for road and rail freight at €435 billion in 2012 (€390 bn for road and €45 bn for rail freight). Therefore, there is a good business opportunity for new effective solutions within this area. In parallel, governments are pushing for stricter rules in the environmental area thereby supporting green solutions.

Safe Green Logistics A/S (SGL) is an innovative logistics company with a mission to optimize efficiency in the European and global freight transport and logistics. SGL together with key partner PVF Schinenfahrzeuge (PVF), specialized in engineering and product maturation for cargo/freight industries, aim at pursuing the aforementioned business opportunity by demonstrating an efficient and cost-effective freight logistics system based on multimodal transport as an alternative to road transport.

The innovation is based upon a truck/train container transfer system (CTS) and a disruptive re-organization of the freight logistical networks in regional Base terminals. By bringing the disruptive SAFE-CTS concept to market, SGL will drastically optimize the entire inland freight value chain, through cheaper, faster and greener transport of goods. It will empower a paradigm shift by moving part of the increasing freight transport demand from road to more efficient multimodal rail-road transport logistics.

The ultimate long-term vision of SGL is to revolutionize the entire freight transport industry through the massive use of the SAFE-CTS technology. However, the company acknowledges the high risk involved and the need to engage a large number of stakeholders throughout the whole value chain in order to accomplish this ambitious vision. Hence, SGL has decided to follow a phased approach to commercialize the SAFE-CTS system. Firstly, SGL will aim at the demonstration and commercial deployment of SAFE-CTS in individual routes comprising point-to-point transport in cooperation with major logistic services providers and cargo holders. This prospect of point-to-point transport lines with one intermodal Base at either end represents a fast route to market by limiting financial, regulatory and technological risks. Still, deployment of the CTS concept in individual lines provides strong economic advantages to the logistic services providers and operators. Once the concept and its value proposition has been proved in the operation of these point-to-point lines, SGL expects to scale the implementation of the concept within enlarged regions comprising networks of several railway lines/cargo routes – thus deploying the full logistical concept, including automatic sorting central HUBs, and related aggregated advantages.

The present innovation project will focus on demonstrating the SAFE-CTS technology in a pilot point-to-point route transporting real cargo. This will be the first step towards showcasing the concept and validating the technology under real operational environment, thus representing a key milestone for overcoming prevailing market entrance barriers for SGL.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The design and engineering of the SAFE-CTS test units to be demonstrated in the project is now successfully completed, and the manufacturing of the test units was started. The overall design and specifications of the IT-system to support the CTS solution have been established. In addition, a report on the overall design and working principles of the terminal sections (Bases) for the CTS system has been prepared.

During the second year of the project, we plan to conclude the manufacturing and installation of the CTS test units and conduct an intensive testing program of the units, including an operational testing phase in the pilot route. We will also intensify dissemination, exploitation and business development activities towards achieving our market development objectives.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

Current loading/unloading processes at intermodal terminals are performed by a single crane, which needs to move the containers one by one along the train. SAFE-CTS brings a high level of autonomy to intermodal operations, where the driver is capable to exchange containers between train and truck – enabling a dramatic reduction of intermodal operation times from many hours (up to 8h) with today’ technologies to less than 20 min for a complete train-set using SAFE-CTS. So far, a few innovative concepts combining truck and rail transport have been introduced in the market but, none of them have shown the potential or gained the momentum for national or international (European) rollout. Moreover, the very low requirements in terms of infrastructure adaptation within the SAFE-CTS Bases empower the potential of building a number of intermodal Bases, which brings a completely new level of flexibility and cost-efficiency for multimodal transport.

In a nutshell, the novel SAFE-CTS solution is a key enabler for door-to-door freight delivery based on cost-effective road-rail multimodal transport, relying on CTS units that are adaptable to the freight forwarder´s existing containers, trucks and train wagons, and thereby enabling fast and passive containers exchange between trucks and trains, without using heavy cranes, vehicles or other equipment. The passive system to transfer containers will require very low investment in road-rail modal interfaces (intermodal Bases). The facilitated access to freight railway services through the access points to trains and the improved efficiency and cost-effectiveness of intermodal operations introduced by the novel CTS will dramatically increase the competitiveness of rail transport mode against the road-based transport of goods. Accordingly, SAFE-CTS will enable a significant reduction in internal costs, as a result of the lower costs of rail transport: (1) Lower fuel costs: higher fuel efficiency of trains per tome*km; promoting short journeys on trucks; (2) Lower personnel costs: less personnel needed when a large journey fraction is carried out by train; (3) Lower equipment costs: less trucks and warehouses needed.

In addition, SAFE-CTS will have a large positive effect in terms of external costs borne by the society, essentially by drastically reducing the number of trucks in the roads thus enabling safer and greener transport and logistics processes. In particular, the SAFE-CTS concept is projected to enable a reduction of the road freight emissions of CO2 by at least 35% by moving traffic from roads to trains. In the longer run, the wide implementation of the concept will enable implementing freight transports based on electrical vehicles, by reducing truck routes to a maximum of 100 km per run day (50 km per trip). This would boost further the societal and environmental gains – enabling zero-emissions freight transports.

Related information

Record Number: 198665 / Last updated on: 2017-05-23
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