In English

Capacity factors in intermodal road-rail terminals

Adriana Huelsz Prince
Göteborg : Chalmers tekniska högskola, 2015. 135 s. Master thesis. E - Department of Technology Management and Economics, Chalmers University of Technology, Göteborg, Sweden; E2015:116, 2015.
[Examensarbete på avancerad nivå]

Intermodal road-rail transportation is a key strategy for the European Union to promote muchneeded mobility while reducing emissions from the transport sector. Nevertheless, the railway has increasingly lost market share due to the higher lead times and lower reliability it can offer in comparison to road transport. Due to its dependence on economies of scale, a correct management of infrastructure capacity at the strategic, tactical and operational levels is necessary for the railway to offer a good service quality while being profitable. In general, while the capacity in railway lines is relatively simple to calculate with the many tools available, the calculation of node capacity is more complex. Furthermore, railway administrators and planners tend to focus, perhaps in consequence, on managing the capacity in lines. This thesis was initiated as a means to find out the factors involved in rail node capacity and to put more light on the subject. Intermodal road-rail terminals were chosen as the specific node of analysis due to the importance of intermodal transport for sustainability. Therefore, the purpose of this thesis is to explore the internal and external factors influencing the capacity of road-rail intermodal terminals, and to describe the tools that could be used to calculate this capacity. Furthermore, a set of analytical methods, which were adapted from those found in literature, are proposed for estimating theoretical, nominal and practical capacity. Nevertheless, these are only to be used for a rough approximation, and not when performing a capacity analysis involving investment plans. Instead, a simulation method is to be used in this case. An existing simulation model described in the reviewed literature, which was previously developed by a research consortium, is proposed as a possible tool to be used for thorough capacity analyses. Additionally, a set of modifications is suggested for said model to be more generic and precise; so to say, to include the various operational parameters of different terminals, and to avoid simplifications which may overlook relevant capacity factors. Besides the proposition of calculation tools, perhaps the most important contribution of the thesis is the differentiation between the different types of capacities in intermodal road-rail terminals. While theoretical capacity is a function of the fixed resources (i.e. the infrastructure and equipment), practical capacity is mostly determined on how these fixed resources are used. In turn, the use of resources is highly dependent upon coordination between actors at all levels, which is related to the use of IT tools. Such statements may sound obvious in a first approximation, but a closer analysis reveals that these concepts are hardly applied in practice, perhaps due to the increasing specialization and the complexity of business configurations in the current intermodal transport sector.

Nyckelord: Intermodal road-rail transportation