The pillars of the projekt

  • Network consideration: Overcoming from restricted axes consideration to a network of offers on the rail combined in itself
  • Interdisciplinary competence: Technology, business administration and informatics as a interdisciplinary approach for innovative rail logistic
  • Alpine crossing as a transnational overall concept: Integration of regionally grown structures in a transnational overall concept
  • Flexibility: no distinction between conventionally wagonload traffic, semitrailer, container and swap bodies (“mixed trains”)

AlpFRail - das Projekt

AlpFrail means written out „Alpine Freight Railway“. The goal of the project is a consistent displacement of flows of goods on the rail in the whole alpine region by innovative concepts. A rail network shall arise which enables connections in all directions. The project work AlpFrail is estimated on four years and provided with four million Euro. The Logistik-Kompetenz-Zentrum (LKZ) has the professional management of the project and 16 partner of the alpine countries contribute.
The project is unique in the EU-transport policy: For the first time state minister, governments, provinces, regions, chambers of commerce and association from Germany, Austria, Italy, France and Switzerland work together to organize the freight transport new. The “Deutsche Bahn”, the habour of venice and the association of  medium-sized transport companies in Italy. The logistic-Kompetenz-Zentrum in Prien as the “Lead Partner” analyses the freight traffic at the alpine region and developes the suggestions by using new technologies for the transnational overall concept. The harmonization of economic efficiency and sustainable environment is of major importance. An international steering group makes the decision about the implementation.

AlpFRail - the initial situation

The drastic increase of the traffic
In the last 20 years the alpine crossing freight traffic doubled. In the year 2014 there were 110 million tons of goods transported on the road and the rail on the inner alpine range. The quantity of goods is continuously increasing overproportionately. The bigger internal market which is occurred by the EU-eastward expansion has a significant influence on that.

Changed conditions for the displacement on the rail in the alpine region
Framework conditions for the displacement of the freight traffic on the rail in the alpine region changed in the year 2004 because of the elimination of the previous eco point system in Austria as well as the contingents for the new EU member states. That is also proven by the consignment decline of the rolling country roads on the Brenner. Beside the previous very sucessful national funding instruments for the combined traffic it seems all the more important to follow even new approaches for the traffic shift on the rail like the project „AlpFRail“.

The thinking in national borders
Until now the rail freight traffic was organized only natoinal. The responsibility of the Germans or the Austrians for their train stops at the national border – for a continuously, optimal offer for the rail freight traffic from Hamburg to Verona there where rarely initiatives. With locomotive change, locomotive driver change and different electricity systems the railway is still fighting with their past. It is the same with the expansion of the railway infrastructure.

AlpFRail – the solution approach

Away from the axes – toward the railway network
To make a smooth rail freight traffic in all directions possible, the old schema of north-south-axes or east-west-routes has to be quitted. A view on the card clarifies: The infrastructure is network like already existing but the traffics are organized only in single axes (e.g. Brenner-axe or Tauernroute). That has to change. Therefore a rethink of the politics and the railways is necessary. Not only the national borders in the head have to disappear – all participants of the project need to understand the alpine countries as a common European area which can only be developed with the help of a network. In the project AlpFRail first the existing freight flows and the existing infrastructure gets analyzed and evaluated in simulation procedures. On that basis the traffic flows get optimized and integrated into the network. To offer the customer transparent information about all available offers on the rail network and to enable a traffic control in cases of bottlenecks, a standardized information- and quality managment system gets developed.

Bundling of all freight flows between the regions
Economical rail freight transport can only be archived by bundling the freight flows. Until now the freight traffic concentrated pretty much on single types of goods and so called race tracks. In the project AlpFRail this historical approach is fundamentally questioned. By network thinking new positive possibilities arise.  That means inter alia the activities spread also on „mixed trains“. For the alpine crossing traffic it means concretely that it is also worked on trains which can transport semitrailer, swap bodies and overseas container together.

AlpFRail – first steps

Take advantage of existing capacities: example “Tauernbahn”
An important tessera and the first step in the project AlpFRail is the “Tauernbahn”. It is the route Salzburg-Villach-Triest. By that route the economic regions in Bavaria and Salzburg get a good connection to the mediteranean harbours. According to statements of the Austrian federal railway (ÖBB) this route was full one and a half years ago so working to capacity. But an overall analysis of the journey times and the technology of this route shows free capacities. The experts of the LKZ optimized the trains technically in that project, found 9 free marked-out routes and proved that in railway traffic there is a very big potential for optimization. All together an immediately displacement of 5.000 extra trucks per month is possible. Meanwhile the first transport companies found out that the route could be a real alternative as well as the Austrian railway. From February 2005 it began with a rolling country road from Triest to Salzburg and will displace already 35.000 trucks per year from the street to the rail. Private railway companies already deal with the technical requirements and the necessary line concessions. The difficulties with different electricity systems will be solved in the year 2005 on the Tauern axe by the use of the firs multy-system locomotive.

Pilot relations between the economic regions Augsburg/Ulm/Stuttgart and the Lombardei/Veneto
The northern Italy regions Lombardei and Veneto with more than 13 million inhabitants and a high GDP of about 26.000 € per inhabitant generate 53% of the whole freight traffic volume from Italy to Germany and thereby also to baden-württemberg´s capital Stuttgart and the bordering regions. Between these economic regions about 2 million tons of haulage goods and chemical products get transported over the alps (Stuttgart 700.000 t, Ulm 500.000 t and Augsburg 650.000 t). Currently there is no direct connection in the combined rail traffic between these trade zones, therefore the amount of the rail is only 12 %. Investigations about the establishment of pilot relations in the frame of AlpFRail show that between the existing transshipment terminals in Augsburg, Ulm and Stuttgart as well as Brescia, Mantua and Rivalta Scrivia at Genua for the maritime transport to Asia can be operated economically. The establishment of a ringpullsystem on the dieselnetwork in the Bavarian and Würtemberg´s Allgäu and in Upper Swabia as a feeder to the terminals in Singen and Wolfurt in Vorarlberg gets analyse in frame of the Project.

The freight immediately on the rail: example Bavarian chemistry triangle
Future rail network in europe is not possible without building transshipment stations. In Italy they build already new and technical very good plants. They enable a big aim of AlpFRail: To displace the freight traffic directly after development on the rail. How important such a transshipment station is, shows the example Bavarian chemistry triangle. In 2006 a transshipment station is built, where up to 30.000 containers can be transhipped every year. The chemistry triangle – between Burgkirchen and Burghausen in upper Bavaria – is an important factor for the German rail freight traffic and for the German economy. In that region are 25.000 workplaces, companies with 7,8 billion  Euro annual turnover and over one billion Euro of investments. But through this area there is only one rail and that is besides not electrified. The connection on the highway is missing, too. Between Munich and Burghausen on a line of 100 kilometers, 1,5 percent of the German rail freight traffic is transported on one rail. Building the railway station and improving the railway infrastructure have therefore the highest priority.

Overcoming of regional orientated spatial planning
In the project AlpFRail regional concepts should be integrated in an trans-regional overall concept. Therefore all local politician decision makers need to get together on one table. The common inventory of all regional plans and the identification and elimination of overlapping is important. Then these trans-regional attuned concepts need to be communicated to the international partner. Conferences and work meeting about this topic already took place in the project AlpFRail. The plan is for example a freight train between Nuremberg and Mantova which will connect two European inland ports. The project partner concentrate also on freight connections between Baden Württemberg and Italy. Between these two important trading partner there is currrently no single link in the combined traffic road/rail.

The Vision: The product rail out of one hand

The great goal of AlpFRail is to offer transport companies and freight forwarders a complete “rail” product with its multiple possibilities, both in its route planning and in the competitive railways from one source. Various responsibilities in several countries and little transparency in the offers still keep companies from using rail as an alternative to the road. In freight traffic by truck it works: a freight forwarder gets the order, the truck takes the goods from the warehouse and drives them across the Alps directly to the customer. Due to the modern information systems it is possible to find out the location of the goods during transport in real time. In the rail freight traffic one is still far away. In order to implement our vision in practice, the following basic condition must be implemented marketable:

1. The forwarder will at a glance have all the options from which transshipment station he can place his loading unit on the train and at which reception location he can pick it up.

2. The freight forwarder immediately recognizes via internet, which capacities are free on the trains, can book them for themselves and book the transport order.

3. The list prices for the transport implementation are available on the internet, depending on the provider.

4. In the same internet system the consignment tracking is shown in the following patter: Loading unit given up at the dispatch station, loaded onto the train, actual departure time, planned arrival time, estimated arrival time in case of a fault, arrived at the receiving station, loading unit ready for pick-up, loading unit picked-up from the receiving pedestrian.

5. The freight forwarder receives information about the current quality on the individual routes or the respective rail operators every month via the internet. The punctuality rates are used by the freight forwarder as a hint with which expected quality he can serve his customers.

A large part of freight forwarder or transporters, but also loaders are not sufficient familiar with the product offers on the rail. In part there is a certain mistrust because of bad experiences, both quality and incomprehensible price jumping in the past. The vision of offering a whole product rail to the potential customer aims in two directions:  On the one hand the rail offers should at least be equated with the continuous truck transport. On the other Hand it´s about a very simple transparency of all available offers on the rail and an easy handling of this transport alternatives.

Project duration

2003 - 2006

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