Internalisation of Freight Transport External Costs in the Paris-Amsterdam Corridor

Internalisation of Freight Transport External Costs in the Paris-Amsterdam Corridor


G Mialocq, Voies Navigables, FR; S Gayda, STRATEC, BE; R Hellot, SETEC, FR


The study assesses the impacts of various freight transport pricing schemes, based on external costs and infrastructure costs. Methodology: multimodal transport model, including a SATURN road model which calculates marginal congestion cost.


The Paris-Amsterdam corridor is a strategic transport axis for European freight transport. It includes the so-called Seine-Scheldt project (TEN-T project), consisting of the future Seine-North Europe canal and a series of improvements of the inland waterway network, on the Lys and Scheldt rivers. The Seine-Scheldt project will significantly improve the capacity and performances of the inland waterway network in Western Europe and will connect, on the one side, the Seine basin and notably the Ile-de-France region (Paris region), and on the other side, the Scheldt basin, i.e. Belgium, The Netherlands and the Amsterdam and Rotterdam ports.

A second element of the study background is the project of new Eurovignette Directive on charging heavy good vehicles. If the Eurovignette Directive is adopted as it is currently proposed, it will allow member states to include external costs in the charge levels (on top of the infrastructure costs) and differentiate these charge levels according to the congestion level.

In this context, the study which is the object of the paper aims to assess the impacts of various freight transport pricing schemes, based on external costs and infrastructure costs.

The study was co-funded by the European Commission and by infrastructure managers and freight transport authorities from the three countries concerned by the corridor, France, Belgium and The Netherlands ; it was piloted by Voies Navigables de France (VNF). These authorities commissioned two consortia of consultancies, the first one (STRATEC and SETEC) to simulate the pricing scenarios with a freight transport model and calculate the road congestion costs, the second one (CE Delft, IWW, INFRAS and Max Herry) to calculate the external costs other than the congestion costs and make a socio-economic assessment of the pricing scenarios. The paper describes the work carried out by Stratec in collaboration with Setec.

The objectives of the internalisation scenarios are to send a signal to users on the actual cost of the modes, to induce a modal shift from road towards rail and IWT, to reduce the environmental damages caused by the freight transport (greenhouse gas emissions, air pollutant emissions, noise emission) and notably by the road transport, the accident risks, and the transport time losses due to congestion.

The methodology of the scenario simulation is based on a multimodal (road, rail, inland waterway) freight transport model whose geographical scope is North-Western Europe. This model was initially developed by Stratec and Setec in the framework of the socio-economic evaluation of the Seine-North Europe canal. The core of the model is a multimodal mode choice logit model (representing the mode choice made by shippers), coupled with network models built with the NODUS software for the rail and inland waterway networks, and coupled with a road traffic model able to represent the effect of congestion on the transport times, built with the SATURN software. This Saturn model was developed and integrated in the global freight model, among others in order to calculate the marginal social cost (MSC) of congestion (using a system optimal assignment procedure).

The pricing scenarios which were tested cover a whole range, including:
- a (quasi) optimal scenario, where all external costs are internalised, on all three modes (road, rail, inland waterways) (marginal social cost pricing)
- a scenario close to the new Eurovignette proposal
- a scenario extending the Eurovignette approach to all three modes
- a target oriented scenario, which aims to maximise the modal shift from road to the rail and IWT, even by moving away from the orthodox internalisation approach.

The main outcomes of the scenario simulations are:
- the marginal congestion costs calculated with Saturn (and comparison with values from the literature)
- the modal shifts in tons and t-km
- the variations in environmental costs, fuel consumption, in congestion time, and in the other external costs
- the revenues from the pricing policy for the authorities.

The most innovative aspects of the study are:
- the integration of a Saturn road traffic model in a freight transport model (made up of a logit mode choice model and Nodus network models for rail and inland waterway)
- the calculation of the marginal congestion costs using Saturn
- the simulation of a full range of freight transport pricing scenarios, from an optimal scenario (marginal social cost pricing) to scenarios inspired by the new Eurovignette Directive proposal, and the comparison of the results.

The study has been finished in December 2010.


Association for European Transport