Area 2 The organization of river-rail-road combined transport chains

Door-to-door river transport requires initial and final road haulage legs and the implementation of a multimodal transport chain. Is river transport compatible with this transport chain approach, or is still dominated by a single mode approach?

Task 4: What actors are involved in combined transport chains and how
are they organized?

For the three sectors in question, the goal is to highlight the actors involved in the transport chain, their functions within this chain and the links between them. The role of institutions, the autonomous ports or the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the case of Lille, in assisting these transport chains, must also be highlighted. What is involved here is an analysis of actor interplay.

Task 5: The role of professionals in organizing river transport

Task 5.a: Bargemen

Those who work in river transport constitute a specific workforce whose characteristics need to be known in order to understand the potential role these may play in the development of
river transport. The workforce in question is diversified. For example, it can be divided into two groups: selfemployed bargemen and employees. The group of employees can be further divided into those employed by small so-called traditional waterway transport undertakings and those employed by more modern ship owners. The employees of ship owners can be yet again divided into employees with a middle management status (captains) or specific skills (wheelmen) and manual workers (sailors).

Task 5.b: Jobs involved in modal transfer

In order to consider some of the conditions for developing activities in river ports, we consider that it is important to conduct a local examination of the activity of the operators who physically transfer freight from river transport to road or rail transport. By analyzing the individual and collective activities of the operators that carry out these operations it should be possible to identify the constraints they are under and identify the individual and/or collective strategies they employ to cope with them. With regard to the determinants of the activity, special attention will be given to the specific transport sector ( for example construction materials, containers and waste) as the requirements for these are different and likely to affect the activity of each player in a more or less specific manner. Identifying the operational strategies of the different actors could enable us to make recommendations concerning the organization or development of new systems to assist the activity (cooperative information, communication and management systems…).

Task 6: Should the number of riverside logistical hubs be reduced or increased?

The renewal of interest in river transport and the desire to promote it encourages the public authorities, from central government to municipalities, to consider the creation of new logistical hubs that directly serve waterway transport. More simply, it could be stated that at the present time there is pressure, and perhaps a real opportunity, to create new river ports. There is an obvious contradiction between on the one hand river transport whose profitability depends on the consolidation and concentration of traffic flows, and on the other providing distribution services that are as local and frequent as possible in order to meet the needs of the market as well as possible, and match road transport. Should the number of river terminals be increased or on the contrary should concentration at a few well located sites be preferred? Local development may encourage an increase in investment, which may reduce coherence at national level. Is it appropriate to locate new river hubs in the periphery of urban areas, including the very distant periphery, thereby following the powerful tendency for urban logistical sprawl? What network configurations are particularly appropriate for the "hub and spoke" model? What complementarities may develop between urban and suburban facilities? How can the minimum optimum size of a port be identified with reference to its position in the port hierarchy?

Task 7: Distribution in the city and the urban area

When considering a combined transport chain, the last kilometres to be covered in the urban area must be given special attention. These last kilometres, which require freight handling at the port and which generate urban freight flows, appear to be the most difficult to perform, and ultimately make the effective implementation of transport chains that include river transport very problematic. Here too, we need to understand who does what and how, while linking this final leg to the location of logistical and distribution activities within the urban area. In particular, we shall consider whether river transport can provide a means of serving distribution points (from which goods will be transported to shops) and if so, how?

Task 8: The economic viability of river transport

We shall analyze the economic conditions for the development of river transport. This task involves studying the "demand" and "supply" aspects of this development.

  1. Under what economic conditions will a shipper (or a road haulier) transfer freight which is currently transported by the dominant mode, namely the road, to the river? What constraints apply to shippers and their choice of transport mode?
  2. Under what conditions can supply respond to such an increase, particularly in view of the structural obstacles the sector currently encounters?
  3. What measures are required to promote compatibility between future demand and this future supply?