Tomorrow's mobility begins today: How the logistics sector shapes smart and sustainable mobility

News from Brussels

Source: European Logistics Platform, 2020-12-10

At the third webinar organised by the European Logistics Platform (ELP) this year, around 50 EU policy-makers and industry representatives met to discuss the European Commission’s Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy and to demonstrate how ambitious green and digital solutions are being implemented in day-to-day business. Marian-Jean Marinescu, Member of the EP TRAN Committee & EPP Co-ordinator, opened the meeting by commending the European Commission for its directions and ambitions outlined in the new Strategy Recognising that transport will be at the forefront of Europe’s initiatives to achieve emissions reduction targets. He noted that a great amount of work will be needed to achieve the desired results. Mr Marinescu stressed that the transport sector would need reasonable measures, as it would need to continue to deliver service quality across the EU, considered key for the EU economy. Therefore legislation would need to take technological developments into account and be modespecific, whilst keeping the sector attractive on the job market. He further highlighted the need for further improvements in the quality of waterborne and rail transport if the EU wants to achieve the shift of 75% from road to rail and IWW. Mr Marinescu concluded by encouraging continued co-operation between all relevant stakeholders, noting in particular the important role of the industry.

Annika Kroon, Deputy Head of Unit Maritime Transport and Logistics at DG MOVE, introduced the Commission’s Strategy for Sustainable and Smart Mobility, highlighting its ambitious targets to reach the EU’s goal of climate neutrality by 2050. She stressed that while the primary objective is sustainability, the transport system has to become also more efficient and resilient. Ms Kroon agreed that there was a need for many policy reforms to support the sector to adjust to the upcoming changes. At the same time, accessibility and quality of transport services and attractiveness of the sector as a job provider had to be preserved to remain competitive. Ms Kroon outlined the key elements of the strategy and the flagship areas concerning freight and logistics: greening of freight transport, carbon pricing and technological innovation. Modal shift to more sustainable modes, digitalisation and automation, and the right incentives to drive transition are all key for the greening of freight. Ms Kroon stressed that all actions listed in the strategy would follow the better regulation process as they advance, ensuring continued engagement with relevant stakeholders, who had already contributed a lot to the development of the strategy and would continue to do so with regards to its implementation.

Frank de Lint, Manager Claims & Legal at Samskip, a pan-European, environmentally responsible multimodal transport operator, welcomed the Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy and highlighted that the revision of the Combined Transport Directive would be essential to achieve a further, highly needed modal shift, noting that if combined transport, including rail, short sea and inland waterway, is not supported and does not become cost-competitive to road, the majority of customers are likely to choose road-only transport. He gave an overview of possibilities to achieve successful modal shift, such as the coupling of an electrified rail journey on the longer distances together with electric trucks on the short urban runs. Samskip is undertaking significant investments to offer these hybrid-solutions. Additional key elements were seen in the development of both existing and new build terminals to improve capacity, as well as the revision of the Regulations on Rail Freight Corridors and the TEN-T, which should ensure the necessary infrastructure and uniform operational practices. Samskip is also working on a solution to ensure the connection between the UK and the European continent post-2020.

Daan Schalck, CEO of North Sea Port, highlighted the importance of investments in infrastructure to improve the connection to the hinterland, as well as increasing regional effectiveness through crossborder co-operation. North Sea Port had undertaken significant investments to facilitate rail transport, including €200m in the port area itself, as well as investments for the hinterland connection. Additional investments were made in digitalisation to ensure a fully digitalised entry at the central gate, as well as to improve the link between the road and rail journey. Being aware of the challenges ahead, North Sea Port was partnering with several parties in achieving its roadmap towards climate neutrality by 2050 and focused on a number of areas in its port planning, including integrated traffic management, reliability, and sustainability. To transition towards a climate neutral and circular industry, Mr Schalck highlighted the need of combining challenges and opportunities in cross border public and private partnerships, thereby creating added value for all partners.

Paul Hegge, Director Public Affairs & Corporate Social Responsibility at Lineas, presented the challenges which lay ahead for the rail freight sector in becoming more competitive, including improved flexibility and an increase of frequency, first and last mile optimisation, as well as speed. He introduced the common vision of the Rail Freight Forward coalition, which was to achieve a 30% rail freight modal share by 2030 and explained the tasks which each stakeholder would have to take to that end. Mr Hegge also presented the top technologies which were seen as essential in enabling the Green Deal according to the coalition as well as their benefits, including Digital Automated Coupling, Digital Platforms, Digital Capacity Management, ERTMS and Autonomous Train Operation.

In concluding the event, Ms Annika Kroon reflected on the presentations given by the speakers, welcoming the fact that there was a high level of ambition in the industry, which was already looking at how to achieve the necessary targets.

The European Logistics Platform consists of more than twenty industry stakeholders representing a wide variety of actors involved in logistics and supply chains across Europe. Current members are ACEA, Amazon, BDL, CER, CLECAT, Deutsche Bahn, Deutsche Post DHL Group, Duisport, ECG, ERFA, ESC, ESPO, FEPORT, FERRMED, Goodyear Operations Europe, Hutchison Whampoa, IRU, Logistics UK, Michelin, NLA, Port of Rotterdam, P&G, TLN, UIRR and Volvo Group.


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