Using capacity on passenger trains for transporting parcels and using train stations as hubs for urban deliveries by cargobikes is no-brainer that unfortunately is rarely exploited because of silos thinking in the rail industry.
It is therefore good to see InterCity RailFreight expand its same-day parcel delivery operation in the UK. From their website:
ICRF now has access to over 100 x 200kph daily rail services across the East Midlands, Great Western and CrossCountry franchise networks, providing fast and frequent services between city centres, across an area from Aberdeen to London and Penzance – covering a number of traditionally difficult parts of the country for road-based couriers to reach.
InterCity’s door-to-door service seamlessly connects local couriers using electric vehicles and cargo bikes with a fleet of electric and diesel-electric high-speed trains – with some routes now offering a 100% electric supply chain. Shipments are tracked in real time from a central control tower with access to a suite of rail industry data feeds. The rail services average 112kph between city centres, with over 97% arriving within 15 minutes of schedule.
The cargobike couriers presently partnering with Intercity RailFreight are:
We have written before on how these companies combine their services to offer fast intercity deliveries of medical supplies.
And of course the same concept can be applied for urban rail. Here is an example from Karlsruhe:
The project, dubbed regioKArgo, envisages the use of modified LRVs on the city’s extensive light rail network to transport freight, primarily consumer goods, between hubs in the city centre, from where it can be delivered to customers via electric bikes or other eco-friendly means.
The intention is that the vehicles can be easily adapted to transport either passenger or freight according to demand, removing the need for dedicated freight LRVs.
Software to support the planning and optimisation of capacity use on the vehicles is a key part of the project. The interface between the freight consolidation hubs where trams would be loaded and last mile delivery from the hubs is fundamental to making the concept a viable and economic proposition.
Further coverage on Cycling Industry News