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Innovation capability in the spotlight: ‘Logistics on Demand’

Enhanced real-time tracking and control of the goods is deemed crucial for freight competitiveness as digitalisation and automation become ever more central to European economy. In this context, Shift2Rail is determined to deliver ‘logistics on demand’ as a capability for the railway systems, enhancing the services Europeans currently enjoy: improving rail freight flexibility and responsiveness to clients’ demand.

Today, only 18.3% of goods travelling inland across Europe do it over rail tracks, despite the unique features of freight rail: offering a cost-effective, attractive service to shippers that helps to take freight away from the congested road network and contributing to reducing traffic jams and CO2 emissions.

To lead a modal shift of freight to rail, Shift2Rail projects work to deliver a set of competitive advantages for rail freight through research and innovation activities. Shift2Rail innovation programme for rail freight aims at contributing to improved logistics services driven by customer demand, better planning, tracking and shipment information capabilities and developing automated yards, intermodal hubs, and ports, connecting the rail system to the multimodal logistic chain.

Shift2Rail freight projects presented their progress on building up the logistic transport of the future, with rail at its backbone, in a joint conference on 18th April in Vienna, Austria. Projects presented their work, including some of the achievements linked to ‘logistics on demand’:

  • SMART-RAIL assessed the feasibility of implementing visibility to customers of rail freight transport based on block chain technology.
  • FR8HUB is simulating faster freight trains for important and mixed traffic bottleneck railway lines and defining a Data-Exchange Platform to improve data exchange, traffic information between freight transport stakeholders.
  • OPTIYARD is developing a fully functional software, which will facilitate real-time interaction between yards and relevant network IT systems that allow for software-based planning and ultimately optimising of single wagonload and block train operational processes.

The Shift2Rail initiative has eight ongoing projects dedicated to the freight sector, in which it has invested more than €35 million. More than 60 universities, SMEs and large firms across Europe have participated in these Research and Innovation activities, since the first project started in 2015.