Using rail to make urban freight distribution more sustainable
Delle Site, Paolo
Salucci, Marco Valerio
Rail is today a minimally used modality in urban freight distribution. To reap the benefits of this more sustainable transport mode a few experiences in Europe have attempted to introduce innovative freight distribution schemes where rail is used. One of such schemes uses rail for the urban penetration leg. After having been consolidated in a centre located outside the urban area, goods are transported by shuttle trains to a centre located inside the central area (the multi-modal urban distribution centre – MUDC) and there are transferred to low-pollution road vehicles to reach their final destination. Other schemes use tramways. The paper provides a review of rail-based schemes which have been introduced in European cities. An in-depth assessment is provided of the scheme based on the use of a MUDC. The case study relates to the distribution of fish food in Rome. The environmental and energy benefits obtainable from the shift from the current road-only scheme to the MUDC scheme are estimated in physical and monetary units. An estimate is provided of the maximum public contribution that would still make the scheme beneficial for society as a whole, obtained as the difference between the social costs of the road-only scheme and those of the MUDC scheme. Also, an assessment is provided of the profitability of the scheme from the operators‟ viewpoint.