On an initiative of Mrs. Cresson, Commissioner for research and development, Mr. Bangemann, Commissioner for industry, telecommunications and information technologies, and Mr. Kinnock, Commissioner for transport, the European Commission has published the terms of reference for the Transport Intermodality Task Force whose brief is to develop industrial common research projects in order to reinforce European competitiveness. The considerable increase in recent years of the volume in goods and passenger traffic and the growing demand for speed, safety and environmental protection have led to the development of the concept of intermodal transport. This term embraces all the systems, apparatus and technologies necessary for integrating transport by road, rail, air and sea and to ensure optimal transfer of goods and passengers from one mode of transport to another. Transport intermodality necessitates numerous developments in standardization, telecommunications, telematics and research in a wide range of areas. The development of intermodal transport is of particular importance to Europe. To ensure that the internal market functions efficiently, the various networks which exist must be interconnected to ensure that goods and passengers can circulate easily in optimal conditions from one end of Europe to the other. The development of trans-European networks is a high priority of the EU and is designed to ensure multimodality. While initiatives to promote transport intermodality have been taken at the national level, there is no European intermodal industry, nor any intermodal organization at the European level. The aim of the task force is to contribute to the development of technologies, systems, innovative concepts and strategies which improve intermodal transport operations in the field of passenger and freight transport. It will be necessary not only to focus on ports, airports, inland terminals and stations, where freight or passengers change transport mode, but also on other aspects of the intermodal system. The initial focus will be on assessing and demonstrating these different aspects in an integrated and comprehensive way on the basis of RTD activities of the current, past and future Framework Programmes, APAS studies and other EU or national research activities. The task force aims to stimulate the market for the development and introduction of high quality intermodal services. Motivation for the Task Force From the perspective of the Common Transport Policy, it is essential that industrial technology developments match the requirements of the European urban and interurban transport systems for both passengers and goods. It is equally essential that the opportunities offered by the developing "Information Society" should benefit transport systems. Thus the Task Force should reflect on how one can move from thinking about transport on a basis of individual modes to thinking of transport as an integrated operation from door to door. Trends in road and air transport are all leading towards greater inefficiency, congestion, pollution, wastage of time and value, damage to health, danger to life and general economic loss. For these reasons, sustainable mobility requires an improved coordination in the planning of and investment in transport infrastructure networks and facilities, an improvement of the combination of the different modes and a development of urban transport. While major efforts are being put into developing new generations of transport means - as highlighted by the creation of the task forces on "car of tomorrow", "trains and railway systems of the future" and "plane of the future", we must at the same time ensure that these means are made compatible with the multimodal transport network, and that the transport system as a whole develops in accordance with the policy objective of sustainable mobility. This involves combining and creating an equilibrium between the basic components of transport networks: - Transport means and modes; - Infrastructure, in particular the requirements of the Trans European Transport Networks (TEN's); - Organization and operation. Major emphasis on transfer points from one mode to another is justified as the results of all EU research activities concerning innovation in transport means, infrastructure, equipment, organization and information technologies must be interconnected and made interoperable. The economic or cost problems, and those of service quality of intermodal transport (compared with single mode transportation), are also most evident here. Positive action in this area is likely to have a spin-off effect on both the transport networks and their individual components. The development of transfer points and facilities will require parallel development of transport means and modes, infrastructure design and organizational concepts. The need for this, notably in terms of further harmonization of transport equipment, logistics etc. has been clearly recognised. Yet the trigger for such an evolution has been lacking. Since transfer points and their facilities are the strategic issue for successful intermodal operations. It is, therefore, important that all modes of transport (inland waterways, sea, road, rail and air) and their supportive telematics applications are involved in this work from the very beginning. Possible teleservice alternatives must be considered. The consequences of technological developments with regards to their user acceptance, economics, safety, social and environmental impacts costs and benefits, required infrastructure planning, organizational, legal and institutional frameworks must be regularly assessed if a balanced European solution for intermodal activities is to be achieved. Basis of the Intermodal Task Force action plan At Community level, the basis for the intermodal Task Force can be found in: - The Second Framework Programme and the Third Framework Programmes; - The Fourth Framework Programme with its specific Transport Programme and transport-related activities in other specific programmes; - APAS studies; - PACT (Pilot Actions Combined Transport) programme; - Past and ongoing COST actions; - The European "citizens' network" concept; - "Information Society" action; - The Common Transport Policy issues, in particular the guidelines for the Trans European Transport Networks (TENs) and those on sustainable mobility; - Fifth Action Programme of Policy and Action in relation to the environment and sustainable development. The following items have been or are being addressed in the activities listed above: - Concepts of more efficient and cost-effective transfer; - "Smart" transfer technologies; - Flexible and modular transfer point design and technologies; - New logistic concepts through TENs notably with the help of advanced transport telematics; - Harmonization of intermodal transport loading units and of the relevant single-mode infrastructure; - Traveller information and support; - Ease of travel between connections at transfer points (distances, ticketing, guidance); - Location and optimal number of transfer points and their facilities; - Coordination of services, traffic/collective transport management; - Availability, reliability and quality of service; - Travel substitution; - Reduction of the costs of intermodal transport. In addition, there are national developments such as: - New trans-shipment techniques for goods (KRUPP, NOELL, COMMUTOR etc.); - New dedicated infrastructure and transport means which are under development for goods transport in The Netherlands, France and Spain (Betuwelijn, Combiroad, route ferroviaire, convoy-driving, Barcelona region) and for passenger transport in the United Kingdom (tram projects e.g. Sheffield, Manchester, Croydon), France (Caen, Lille) and Germany (Hannover). These and other national research activities, together with the various private and public initiatives to invest in new intermodal facilities and infrastructure could be exploited under Articles 130K and 130L of the Maastricht Treaty to bring about the convergence of the various RTD activities and demonstrate their viability. In addition use could be made of article 130H in order to ensure consistency between national and European research. As there is no European intermodal industry as such, nor an intermodal organization representing all actors involved, the Commission could take the initiative under Article 130N to promote the establishment of intermodal networks or associations (one for freight, another for passengers). The North American Intermodal Association might serve as an example. The Action Plan An action plan will be prepared proposing the measures to be taken and a timetable to achieve the objectives of the Task Force. The action plan will reflect the views of the actors concerned. This action plan will identify needs, priorities and issues to be addressed at a European level, from RTD, validation and demonstration, through to acceptance in the market place of a new generation of transfer points and facilities. The action plan will identify performance targets for a series of projects and a time scale. It will establish the basis for demonstrations of cost-effective technologies and/or strategies. It will focus on technological bottlenecks in single mode technologies and organizational questions which must be addressed urgently, in order to improve interconnection and interoperability. Each research project identified in the action plan should take into consideration user requirements. The action plan will identify and develop accompanying and support measures for accelerating the transfer of RTD results into the market. This may include synergy with EUREKA and national RTD programmes, national and Community financial instruments, tools for comparative evaluation of different solutions, standardization, etc. Supportive measures which need to be considered are: - The promotion of the creation of an intermodal freight association in Europe in order to reach out more efficiently to all market parties; - The establishment of an organization for intermodal passenger transport in Europe to reach and involve all parties in a more efficient way at policy level; - The establishment of a strategic group to advise on all aspects of transport economics, infrastructure planning and sustainable mobility requirements. - The establishment of a strategic group to advise on, and possibly coordinate, activities in the fields of transport economics, planning and research; - The co-ordination with other activities aimed at achieving sustainable mobility. The Scope of the Action Plan The scope of the action plan covers 11 specific items: - Modes; - Infrastructure and networks; - Standardization, harmonization and regulation; - Legal and institutional framework; - Economic environment; - Environmental and energy impact; - Transfer technology; - Information technology and telematics tools; - Marketing of intermodal transport services (including pricing); - Impact of new technologies; - Needs of travellers, freight operators, customers and public authorities. Task Force management and organization The Task Force will have a separate identity and be headed, at Commission level, by Mr. N. Kinnock, supported by a permanent secretariat and a core group. Technical working groups, involving external experts, might be established. The management of the Task Force must reflect a balance between intermodality for freight and intermodality for passenger transport. In both cases the core group should consist of: - Representatives of Commission services (DGIII, XI, XII, XIII, XVII and VII); - Representatives of the other transport related Tasks Forces, where appropriate. Associated with the core group, and meeting once a year, under the chairmanship of Mr. Kinnock, will be senior representatives of businesses involved in the supply of transport equipment, rolling stock, vehicles and transport telematics, infrastructure owners, intermodal operators, freight forwarders and travel agents.