Measures for Improving Capacity in Port Hinterland Connections by Road

Measures for Improving Capacity in Port Hinterland Connections by Road


R Aronietis, P Markianidou, H Meersman, T Pauwels, E Van de Voorde, T Vanelslander, A Verhetsel, University of Antwerp, BE



As far as congestion is concerned, sea ports are often shown to be worst hit on the land side. This observation is also true for Flanders. A case in point is the E313 motorway, which makes the connection between Antwerp and Li├Ęge and further on also Germany. Capacity optimization seems to impose itself, in view of the frequent occurrence of congestion and the many accidents featuring the motorway. The severity of the problem shows up also in a survey held by the researchers among Flemish road transport companies.

This study assesses the need for particular measures, composed of either pricing, infrastructure expansion or regulation. The analysis is done based with the help of a freight transport model, which runs a number of purpose-made scenarios. The scenarios are based on possible developments in the economy and in other parts of worldwide logistics networks, as well as on possible policy that could be introduced by the government.

Starting point for the scenarios is port-generated incoming and outgoing traffic. The E313 motorway currently is an important freight connection between the port of Antwerp and Germany. As such, expected port traffic developments may heavily impact on the motorway?s capacity utilization. In particular, the impact of the potential development of short sea shipping is included, as well as the current Deurganckdock whose throughput steadily increases, and the potential future development of a new dock, called Saeftinghedock.

The motorway features particular competition from both rail and inland waterways, especially in dealing with port-bound traffic. As to waterways, the Albert Canal, which runs mainly in parallel with the motorway, is currently being subject to capacity expansion through the extension and elevation of a number bridges that cross the canal. Moreover, a number of more general capacity optimization measures are being put in place by the European Commission but more importantly also by the Flemish government. The latter also deploys a mode shift strategy, with the aim of increasing the chances of both inland navigation and rail transport. Rail could specifically benefit from the potential re-activation of the Iron Rhine connection between Antwerp and the German Ruhr area. These improvements are also taken into account in the model scenarios. Finally, the impact of road pricing is considered. Road pricing could either be deployed on motorways only or on all roads.

The combination of the previous developments leads to a large number of scenarios composed of varying levels of overall economic evolution and policy intervention. The analysis leads to the conclusion that a clear hierarchy can be found in measures that have the strongest impact on capacity optimization. Their impact however turns out to be strongly dependent on the market conditions and combination with other capacity instruments put in place.

The results of this study are sufficiently generalisable so that they are applicable not only to the Flemish context, but to any port hinterland context featuring strong road use and availability of rail and/or inland waterway alternatives. In that sense, the scenario runs and their results are of high relevance to policymakers in charge of alleviating port hinterland congestion problems.


Association for European Transport