Integrating Air Cargo into Multimodal Transportation Networks: Vision and Practical Relevance of Quattro-modal Freight Hubs
DR. MATTHIAS PRANDTSTETTER, AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH
This paper investigates the potential of quattro-modal hubs for freight traffic, which are nodes where four modes of transport (road, rail, waterway and air) are either locally bundled or at least technologically and
Sarah Pfoser, Oliver Schauer, Lisa-Maria Putz,
University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria
Georg Hauger, Monika Wanjek, Claudia Berkowitsch
Vienna University of Technology
Reinhold Schodl, Sandra Eitler
University of Applied Sciences bfi Vienna
Matthias Prandtstetter, Karin Markvica
AIT Austrian Institute of Technology
Mobility Department - Dynamic Transportation Systems
Recent works suggest intermodal freight transport to have a promising potential of reducing negative effects caused by the transport sector. To tap the full potential an eco-friendly multimodal supply chain is required, where the relevant part of the distance is covered by environmentally friendly modes of transport such as rail or inland waterways. Since the transport sector causes substantial emissions, intermodal transport is also being promoted by policymakers and subject to strategy papers on transport policy. The intermodal integration of different modes of transport (MOTs) at one hub is currently usually limited to road, rail, waterways (inland navigation and deep sea) and - depending on the understanding of MOT - also pipelines, which is usually referred to as bi- and tri-modal hubs. This concept is already widely discussed in literature and very common in practice.
In contrast, air freight transport is only regarded in an isolated manner and there is only very limited scientific and empirical evidence for the local, hub-related integration of air cargo into multimodal transport chains. Nevertheless, the local bundling of four modes of transport might entail specific advantages due to the additional mode option. Furthermore, when building up failsafe (synchromodal) transportation networks the effortless transhipment from one MOT to another one is crucial. The improved choice might lead to more sustainable transport decisions. For this reason, the aim of this paper is to examine the potential and practical relevance of quattro-modal hubs in freight traffic. In the following, we define quattro-modal hubs as logistics pivots where four modes of transport (road, rail, waterway and air) are either locally bundled or at least technologically and organizationally integrated. This implies that the concept of quattro-modality is not limited to a specific site where all four modes meet (e.g. an airport). It can also refer to a region or a district where all four modes are available and integrated in an intelligent way. Technological integration means that there is the possibility to overcome physical interfaces, e.g. through cargo-handling technology and appropriate IT systems. Organisational integration means cooperation in terms of transport organisation, e.g. exchange of information and cooperation in processing.
The theoretical analysis (desk research, interviews with experts) suggests that there is a potential for quattro-modal hubs in freight traffic, the vision is however in an early stage of development and there might be difficulties due to its implementation. Further there is a need for a feasibility analysis on a regional scale to assess the practical relevance of quattro-modal hubs in freight traffic. This currently takes place in the ongoing Austrian exploration-study Q4, which is financed by the Austrian Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology (BMVIT).
Association for European Transport