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Baden-Württemberg logistics concept

The German state of Baden-Württemberg has issued a “logistics concept”. With its roughly 10 million inhabitants, the state is located in the Southwest of Germany. It includes much of the upper Rhine valley with its traffic axis, and also the Black Forest, as well as the heavily industrialized Stuttgart area. The logistics concept (“Güterverkehrskonzept”) is not a binding document, but it is bound to set the framework for government priorities in the years to come. The analytical part of the concept is very comprehensive. It gives the reader an in-depth overview of current trends and developments, as far as they are relevant for the transport policy of the state. The details get far beyond what an article in the “Review” can summarize.

The preparation of the plan started with a number of dialogue forums with stakeholders. Since the state of Baden-Württemberg is rather large, with a number of regional urban centres, some of the meetings were held especially to take into account regional points of view. Another topic was harbour logistics, since the state is located along the upper Rhine and it also has significant ports along the Neckar river. Furthermore, workshops were held on urban logistics, plus logistics for oversize and heavy loads.

The next chapter of the concept is on the development of regional transport volumes, in general as well as along specific main routes. This includes not only a trend projection, but also a comparison with other studies.

Another chapter deals with the obstacles for sustainable development. It differentiates between general obstacles and the specific obstacles in the state of Baden-Württemberg.

The longest chapter and main content part of the study is about the fields in which goods transport can be shaped by administrative and political means. This includes: Improving capacities, improving organization, competition and regulation, innovation, and networking.

The last chapter names the action fields and measures. It identified a number of fields and is therefore summarized here. Some are short term:

  • Action field 1: Network for sustainable goods transport. Here, the bottlenecks are identified for all modes of transport. The typical bottleneck is in long distance transport along those main European corridors that run through several states. However, half the goods transport volume across the state of Baden-Württemberg is transit traffic. Therefore, developing alternative routes would help to reduce bottlenecks, even if these routes would then be outside the state.
  • Action field 2: Urban logistics. The concept suggest selecting two or three model towns, in which urban planning takes logistics into account. The state should help these towns to develop urban logistics hubs which are environmentally friendly, space saving and sustainable.
  • Action field 3: Committed carer for rail freight. Rail transport is more complex than road transport and needs coordination. This should be the job of a committed carer, who would work full time. He / she would work as an interface between the actors and would also consult the state government.
  • Action field 4: Autonomous driving. Baden-Württemberg is a center of the automotive industry. A segment of the Autobahn as well as some surrounding roads is already designated as a test field for autonomous driving. So far, this aims at development for passenger traffic. This should be extended to include goods transport and logistics.

Others are long-term measures:

  • Action field 5: Loading tracks. Today, mainly a few large companies have remained their own loading tracks. The various support programs do not cover some necessary investments. A main problem for smaller loading tracks is the cost of the switch that connects with the main rail network. Its maintenance has in the past caused prohibitive costs and resulted in closure of many industrial spurs. The concept therefore suggested extending the financial support to costs related to that switch.
  • Action field 6: Combi buses. In the countryside, public transport serves few people. In a number of cases, services would improve if parcel delivery and passenger transport could be joined. This would need a different type of buses, and the work of the driver would also have to be redefined. The logistics concept suggests a trial run.
  • Action field 7: Truck parking. With its huge amount of transit traffic, the Autobahn system in Baden-Württemberg faces a substantial need for truck parking. So far, there is lots of “wild” parking along the main transport axes and, as a result, also in neighbouring towns and villages. In legal terms, Autobahn parking is a responsibility of the federal government. But with the consequences much felt across the state, the state level should also deal with the problem.
  • Action field 8: Intelligent traffic management. Traffic management plays a crucial role in keeping the traffic fluent. It means getting the relevant data from public as well as from private sources and processing it. Then it must be brought to the attention of the drivers. A main point is to indicate availability of truck parking.
  • Action field 9: Inland navigation. Although Baden-Württemberg is far from the sea, it has significant goods transportation on inland waterways. The upper Rhine from Basel to Karlsruhe is the western border of the state, and its tributary, the Neckar River, runs from Mannheim upstream to Stuttgart and its region. The logistics concept suggests systematic promotion of inland waterways. Furthermore, it promotes enlarging the locks along the Neckar River for capacity gains and lower transport costs.
  • Action field 10: Vehicle innovation. The logistics concept points out that vehicle innovation tackles fields of public interest and usually is accompanied by a public debate. The state should seek an active part in that debate. It should also ensure that the innovation debate is not just about road vehicles, but also about rail and inland waterways.
  • Action field 11: Infrastructure fee. In Germany, road toll is a matter of federal legislation. Nevertheless, the logistics concept points out that the state government should monitor the consequences of tolling and influence legislation through the Federal Council (Bundesrat) if necessary. This may be especially important with extension of Autobahn toll to smaller trucks. They may be more likely than large trucks to seek for local and regional toll evasion routes.
  • Action field 12: Infrastructure planning. Here the authors list the future infrastructure measures which they consider existential for the state of Baden-Württemberg:
    • Keeping the whole infrastructure in a state of good maintenance.
    • Longer sidings for longer trains; better resilience and availability of alternative routes for the main railway lines.
    • Extending the locks at the Neckar River.
    • A buffer area for heavy goods vehicles at the border to Switzerland.

Final chapters deal with implementation, financing, and quality control.

The “Güterverkehrskonzept” was elaborated by a consortium of main logistics and transport consultancies under the guidance of Heilbronn University. The further partners include SSP Consult, railistics, Fraunhofer IAO, Steinbeis-Beratungszentrum Logistik und Nachhaltigkeit, IVK Röhling, and IKEM. You can download it (in German language) from the website oft he Ministerium für Verkehr Baden-Württemberg.