STRAIGHTSOL. Strategies and measures for smarter urban freight solutions

Client: European Commission
Dates: 2011-2014

Urban areas represent particular challenges for national and international freight transport, both in terms of logistical performance and environmental impacts. To support the creation of a new concept of Smart Urban Freight Systems, the STRAIGHTSOL project, Strategies and measures for smarter urban freight solutions, was launched to:

(1) develop a new impact assessment framework for measures applied to urban-interurban freight transport interfaces;

(2) support a set of innovative field demonstrations, effectively showcasing improved urban-interurban freight operations in Europe; and

(3) apply the impact assessment framework to the live demonstrations and developing specific recommendations for future freight policies and measures.

The seven STRAIGHTSOL demonstrations were:

  •  urban consolidation centre in L’Hospitalet de Llobregat (Barcelona, ES) by DHL;
  •  city logistics mobile depot in Brussels (BE) by TNT Express;
  • remote ‘bring-site’ monitoring near London (UK) by Oxfam;
  • rail tracking and warehouse management in Thessaloniki (GR) by Kuehne+Nagel;
  • retail supply management and last mile distribution in Oslo (NO) by GS1 Norway;
  • loading/unloading operations management and regulations in Lisbon (PT) by EMEL;
  • night-time deliveries in Brussels (BE) by Colruyt and Delhaize.

Through the STRAIGHTSOL demonstration analyses it was shown that most of the tested concepts have very positive impact for the society as a whole, leading to a positive impact both for the citizens and the local authorities.

These measures, however, tend to come at a price for the private partner that operates the demonstration and usually bears most of the costs. In none of the STRAIGHTSOL demonstrations were new prices negotiated between the various private stakeholders meaning that economic costs or benefits were not shared between them. They were also not compensated for the external benefits that were created (reduction of emissions, better road safety, improved urban accessibility). The evaluation confirmed that it is very difficult to implement sustainable city logistics concepts, because they appear to be financially unviable for the private stakeholder undertaking the initiative. And even if there are scaled variations that are financially viable, the solution requires adapted behaviour of the main stakeholder which also is a major barrier for roll-out. In the evaluation we have identified the trend that the scenarios that are supported by the citizens and the authorities are usually not supported by the operator, receivers and senders and vice versa.

Overall, the evaluations show that there is a big role to play by the (local) governments. All concepts are beneficial to society, especially when they are scaled. They require, however, too much initial investment of a private partner or cannot be operated in a profitable way. In that sense, the local government can play a crucial role in the take-up of these concepts when they use their regulation power to support sustainable concepts.