It is the aim of the research project "AirCargo RailCenter" funded by the Federal Ministry for Economics and Technology to shift air cargo transports from street to rail. The use of an innovative transshipment concept for entire semi-trailers shall help to sustainably and economically realize this shift. Fraunhofer IML accomplished this project together with the project partners Fraport AG, "Speditions- und Logistikverband Hessen/Rheinland-Pfalz" (hauler and logistics association), Panalpina, Lufthansa Cargo AG and DB Schenker Rail Deutschland.
In the first phase of the project the project team carried out an actual state analysis of air cargo transport on the street related to the airport Frankfurt/Main. The gathered potential demand shows that air cargo can be transported by rail with a demand- relevant rail freight transport concept. However, only direct services come into question that can compete time-wise with road transports. For the economic and, with respect to frequency, attractive service of a block train additional load from the conventional land transport is necessary. Through shipping of the whole semi-trailer the established processes in the air cargo transport chain can persist.
The generally used semi-trailers are mainly not craneable and thus cannot be loaded on railroad cars in the combined traffic. A comprehensive market analysis with respect to handling of not craneable trailers from street to railway showed that various new systems are getting close to be ready for the market or they are just in the middle of prototype tests.
The project team gathered detailed operating and feasibility characteristics for the use of these innovative transshipment concept s for not craneable semi-trailer s within the scope of a rail freight transport concept for air cargo. The most important advantages that the use of the AirCargo RailCenter offers, besides a reduction of CO2, are the disappearing transport restrictions at Sundays and bank holidays, the exemption of vehicle tax for the tractor unit, the optimized use of tractor units in the local transport and the removal of dead time for tractor units in the main carriage.