Economy

Study on package deliveries by tram: expensive but better for the environment

The parcels would be brought from the tram station to the front door by cargo bike.

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  • Transporting parcels by subway – this was the idea with which Minister of Transport Scheuer caused a sensation in the spring. A study has now concluded that trams are better suited for this.
  • Delivery by tram is more expensive than by car, but the tram concept is far ahead in terms of CO2 savings. It can save 57 percent CO2 emissions every day.
  • “Politicians must promote environmentally friendly and people-friendly transport by tram and cargo bike to relieve the city centers and protect the climate,” said association manager Dirk Flege.

Drones, electric transporters or cargo bikes: there is no shortage of ideas on how parcels are best delivered to customers. A few months ago, Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer brought another variant into play: After closing, deliveries could be taken to special depots, so-called micro-hubs, in order to be picked up and delivered to the customer the next day.

However, this version is also not entirely new and has already been tried out in other cities and countries, as a recent study by the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences shows. In it, they examine the possibility of transporting parcels in trams. At least in the Hessian metropolis, this is the better option compared to the subway, they write. “The reason given is that the tram network has significantly more stops and there are no tunnel sections.”

With a view of Frankfurt, the study authors are investigating a variant according to which trucks bring the parcels to a tram station on the outskirts of the city. From there, the tram transports the deliveries in large transport boxes to the micro-hubs, from where they are brought to the front door by cargo bike.

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However, this method of transport takes longer and is also more expensive than normal delivery by car, the authors concede. “A parcel delivered with the tram costs 1.89 euros and a parcel with the conventional transporter costs 1.62 euros,” they write. “In terms of CO2 savings, however, the tram concept is way ahead.” It can therefore save 57 percent of CO2 emissions every day.

Online trade and package deliveries are booming in the corona crisis

This is one of the reasons why the Allianz pro Schiene advocacy advocates the transport idea. “The corona crisis is fueling the package boom in Germany again,” said association manager Dirk Flege. “Politicians must promote environmentally friendly and people-friendly transport by tram and cargo bike to relieve the inner cities and protect the climate.”

Because of the growing online trade, the package volume has been increasing steadily for years. That is why more and more diesel transporters are clogging up the roads and the already overloaded infrastructure. Because even more people order online in the Corona crisis, the volume of transport has increased even faster in the past few weeks than usual.

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However, traffic in city centers also decreased significantly. “Due to the reduced road traffic and the greater number of stopping places for delivery vehicles, delivery and delivery processes ran much more smoothly on the last mile,” said the chairman of the Federal Association for Parcel and Express Logistics, Marten Bosselmann, on request.

He welcomed the trams in Frankfurt. “The concept of using trams as a last mile feeder is definitely an option if it is combined with the use of cargo bikes and microdepots.” The Frankfurt study is an approach to find out the benefits and limitations of the concept. There are currently no other corresponding pilot projects.

However, there are empirical values ​​from abroad. According to the study, there was a model project in the Dutch capital Amsterdam in 2007. The authors write that the existing tram network should not only be made usable for passengers, but also for freight transport. The project even received permission to “operate fully”. In the end, however, it failed – partly because of the costs.

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