Governance of Logistics Infrastructure: Policy and Business Approaches for Freight Villages

Governance of Logistics Infrastructure: Policy and Business Approaches for Freight Villages


S Kapros, University of the Aegean, GR


This paper aims at performing a benchmarking of policies and business models dealing with logistics infrastructure in various European countries.


Logistics were known as the exclusive playfield of private economic stakeholders all along their impressive last thirty-year's history. And yet, it is obvious that a remarkable potential lies in them, still unexplored by governments and public authorities, namely, the means to achieve the strategic goal consisting in decoupling transport and traffic demand from economic development. Despite the fact that, at the business level, private economic actors are indeed the norm in logistics, the role of the public domain is not to be underestimated, for the latter can stimulate its development and enhance the national and regional development, notably by the creation of Freight Villages. In the past, the public authorities have shown a certain interest to logistics and more specifically to its spatial aspects. Its intervention has been unequal, shaped as it was along the lines of the various logics ruling the diverse European settings where such interest was shown. It follows that the public sector has not always been able to spot the real stakes of the logistics and to articulate the perspectives they open in the context of a coherent political plan. The sustainability of logistics is strongly related to the creation, management and governance of Freight Villages.

Freight Villages can generate internal and external effects. The internal effects refer to the advantages accruing for the users from sharing the total acquisition and operating costs of common facilities, equipment and services offered; that is without having to proceed in heavy and risky investments for building their own, fully private, logistics centre. They also refer to the benefits from the increasing interaction between users. Besides the above, Freight Villages also generate larger-scale or external (network) effects, such as traffic diversion and modal shift, land use reorganization, changes in local economy, employment, energy consumption and the environment.

Therefore, Freight Villages can be regarded as a blend of public facilities and business firms. The rationale behind the public investments is that of a public good, which reflects the external or network effects of a Freight Village and can be combined with larger-scale, regional policy objectives and plans. The rationale behind private investments relates to the economic viability and financial profitability of the project. Since such investments can combine both, Freight Villages have been progressively inserted in the political agenda of national authorities. Recently, the European Transport Policy also included the logistics infrastructure in its high priority agenda and encourages the creation of Freight Villages, especially in the framework of Public-Private Partnerships. Since the Freight Villages act as the interface between various logistic scales, it follows that their governance calls for an implication at various nested institutional levels. The governance methods employed in this perspective by the European countries which serve as examples deserve to be studied and taken into account in a more systematic fashion.

This paper aims to perform a comparative analysis (benchmarking) of the policies dealing with regional development and logistics in various European countries. The paper will initially yield monographs of various European countries under scrutiny, in which the governance of the territorial dimension of logistics will be analysed. An analysis of the similarities and differences of respective countries' models will follow, a typology pattern will take form and the key elements of successful exempla will be highlighted. Lessons to be learned and conclusions to be drawn will be presented. Finally, the paper will provide tools which facilitate decision-making and encourage effective changes in territorial governance of logistics, aiming towards greater sustainability of the supply chains.

The methodological approach of the paper is that of benchmarking i.e. of comparing international policies for logistics physical planning, and more specifically for promoting Freight Village developments along the lines of a specific common pattern of analysis. The standards employed to this effect correspond to the distinct aspects of governance models and the roles played by private and public stakeholders. The similarities and differences thus revealed will be conjugated in a composite presentation of the results, forming a typology, highlighting key elements of successful cases and indicating logical deductions to be made by decision makers.


Association for European Transport