Level-of-service Based Evaluation of Freight Networks

Level-of-service Based Evaluation of Freight Networks


Albert Mancera, IVT, ETH Zürich, Dirk Bruckmann, IVT, ETH Zürich, Ulrich Weidmann, IVT, ETH Zürich


Application of the transportation concept of Level-of-Service to freight transport to evaluate the quality offered by the transport chains to the shippers, taking into account different types of transport modes and the needs of the different commodity groups.


Level of service (LoS) is a gradual classification of the quality experienced by users of a passenger transport infrastructure. It classifies the quality by a scale of letters, normally classified from A for the maximum quality of service to F for the minimum. In road transportation it evaluates e.g. the performance and security of the traffic flow and their impacts in the drivers or passengers. LoS was first developed for the High Capacity Manual in 1965. This concept was originally applied on highways and roads but nowadays is also applied on urban areas, intersections, and roundabouts, thanks to the updates of more recent experience and improved data. In the last years a LoS concept has been applied to other sectors in the transportation field such as public transport and slow modes such as pedestrians and bicycles, so basically it has only been used for passenger transport. But untill now the LOS concept has never been transferred to freight transport, except from one application for intermodal terminals.
Applying the LoS concept to freight transport will provide great benefits for freight haulers. This methodology can be used to identify bottlenecks in the transport chain, even if there exist very different elements in this transport chain. It can also allow to compare different transport chains, or add new concepts in the existing definitions of quality levels for networks such as the international single wagon network XRail. Governments could profit as well from this tool to get technical conclusions from a concrete corridor in terms of quality of service provided, and therefore decide if the corridor might need some sort of improvement according to a desired standard of quality. It also might help to compare the effect of different investments across modes or in different points of the network.
The LoS for freight transport under development wants to be a tool that allows to evaluate holistically the real state of the freight corridors by analyzing them link by link despite the overall behavior. A tool that could provide useful information about freight transport quality to transport planners and shippers, and therefore help them in their decision making process. This LoS for freight transport takes into account the different transport means performing in the European corridors: rail, road, inland waterways and short sea shipping. It allows to compare their performance and evaluates them in a combined scale. It also considers which type of good is being transported and therefore adjusts its needs with the right LoS’ scale. These properties allow to evaluate a full intermodal shipment of any type of good under a unified criteria but at the same time it regards the particular needs the different commodity groups have.
Transport indicators will be used to evaluate the quality of the transport in absolute values, with independence of the transport mode used. Afterwards this values will be matched with the scale of needs of the commodity group of the good transported, so the real quality of the shipment will be stated. Possible indicators are: travel time, reliability, and risk of damage and loss, which recent studies show them as the most reliable to estimate the willingness to pay of the shippers.
This methodology will be proved in a test case on European TEN-T corridors. This corridors are composed by the four transport modes which take part of the methodology and they are wide enough to supply a large amount of information about bottlenecks, country border issues and transport geography.


Association for European Transport