Motorways of the Sea and Rolling Highways: from the Users? Point of View

Motorways of the Sea and Rolling Highways: from the Users? Point of View


F Reffet, CETE Méditerranée, FR; M Potier, CETE de Lyon; FR; P Le Bourhis, CETE de l'Ouest; FR; S Olivier, Altermodal, FR; R de SOLERE, Sétra, FR; M Desiderio, Sétra/CSTR, FR


The point of view of 22 road carriers using the Alpine rolling highway or the Motorway of the sea (Toulon-Civitavecchia). Results provide answers about companies? organization, benefits, and the choice between accompanied or unaccompanied transport.


Aims of the study
The main purpose of this study is to understand how and under which conditions a road carrier would be ready to use a motorway of the sea or a rolling highway, whether as an accompanied of unaccompanied transport service, in replacement of its current operation.

This study is useful for French Government decision makers in their discussions to implement sea motorway services on the Atlantic coast, and also to develop the existing rail and sea services.

From this point, questions needed to find answers:
· Under which conditions a road carrier would use these services?
· What would be the consequences on its organization and operational and capital costs?
· Is the company size an important threshold impacting whether or not to use such a service?
· Which categories of road carriers would be able to adapt their structural organization to use an unaccompanied transport service (i.e. only the trailer is on the train/ship)?

After a bibliographical analysis, 22 road carriers, users of the Alpine rolling highway or the Motorway of the sea between Toulon and Civitavecchia, were interviewed in France and Italy. The results of these interviews provided answers to the questions regarding companies? organization, benefits of these new alternative services, and the reason why carriers would choose accompanied or unaccompanied transport.

Main conclusions
The study shows that the size of road carriers companies using both rail and sea services are quite different, while their purpose is the same: move regular and planned freight flows. Quantities and frequencies are variable and origins and destinations also.

The choice between accompanied or unaccompanied transport depends on origins and destinations. Unaccompanied transport is mainly used with short pre- or post-transfers. Companies usually start operating accompanied transport, which is more flexible, testing the quality of service, while preparing their organization for a later use of the unaccompanied option.

Unaccompanied transport is mostly a large-sized companies? choice, mainly because they carry high-volumes on a regular basis, own enough trailers, and are able to partner with foreign companies or even open subsidiaries in the other country. However, some small-sized businesses managed to optimized their organization to switch to unaccompanied transport too.

Either accompanied or not, carriers choose these alternative modes when they allow them to reduce their costs, improve truckers driving time, and still deliver on time with the same quality of service. Environmental issues did not seem to be a criterion for carriers to choose these new modes.

Although quite satisfied with current offers, carriers wish to see higher frequencies for the existing services.

The complete study is available online at:


Association for European Transport