Freight Transport Plan for a Metropolitan Area - Logistics and Management in the Case of Madrid

Freight Transport Plan for a Metropolitan Area - Logistics and Management in the Case of Madrid


Sergio Castillo Tello, Poltechnic University of Madrid, Miguel A. Mozos-Blanco, Polytechnic University of Madrid, Elisa Pozo Menendez, Polytechnic University of Madrid


This paper suggests new solutions to urban freight transport system, based on the urban rail.


When we think about urban mobility planning, the first things coming to our minds are probably cycling lanes, policies to support public transport and special taxes for private vehicles. However, even though cities must ensure the daily mobility of their population, many other urban services should be taken into account, such as those required to carry goods and materials between different places. We have focused on freight logistics, which represent approximately a 20% of the global transport within the cities.

Urban freight transport system is very rigid and has remained unchanged for several decades, this being the consequence of the widespread use of motorized vehicles. Fortunately, we are being progressively aware of the consequences of this system, such as serious problems for traffic management, acoustic pollution, or air emissions due to fossil fuel energy consumption. This is why we suggest another solution to urban freight transport system, based on the urban rail.
We have chosen Madrid as a case of study for our analysis, because it has a complex but well developed urban rail system. As well as many other cities and communities, Madrid represents a big problem in terms of maintenance and profitability of public services. More precisely, the urban rail of this city is widely underused. If we look at it, we realize that several lines maintain a low frequency of trains and the whole service is closed during nights. In this context, the principal aim of our proposal is to develop an alternative for the current freight transport system within our metropolitan area, which would be based on the urban rail net and complemented with other solutions the closer we get in the proximity scale.

The system we are proposing would be based on three different scales:
First of all, some big "hubs" would be necessary, in order to centralize all the freight arriving to the city. Here, long-distance goods would be transferred to urban trains. Also, these centers could represent new opportunities for the city, as new jobs would be created and the urban area would be reactivated.

The second scale would be the urban rail itself, connecting these hubs with the train stations in the city as well as other peripheral communities. Obviously, it would be necessary to adapt the existing stations in order to enable a logistic platform, thus allowing the activity of the different workers without disturbing the preexistent flow of daily users. However, if deliveries were made at night, both the necessary resources and the disruption caused would be minimal.

Finally, to ensure the delivery of the goods to the last scale, this is, to the supermarkets, stores or even the individual client, an intermodal structure would be required. An ideal stage would include some car-sharing or rental facilities in the surrounding areas of the train station, based on a common fleet of "green vehicles" (electric, biogas, hydrogen...). This could be complemented by a motorcycle parking for light deliveries, and other systems that would complete the freight shift.

The management of this service in our cities and metropolitan poses a big challenge, as it would represent a significant change for our urban environments. Not only we would solve many traffic problems, thus improving air quality and reducing noise, but also we could have more free public space for pedestrian use, green surfaces, etc.

We are aware that this project has many issues to analyze, evaluate and resolve. A strong compromise from transport and trading companies would be needed, while customers should modify some consumption habits (for example, by buying local products in order to reduce the delivery process). However, we believe there are alternatives to the current system, and that we can transform our cities progressively in order to optimize the resources while facilities for the population are improved. This way we will ensure a better environment and a better quality of life for future generations.


Association for European Transport