Press Release 019/2021

When the Tram Delivers Parcels

LogIKTram Project Develops Logistics Concept and an IT and Communications Platform for the Transportation of Goods by Tram and City Railway Vehicles – The Region of Karlsruhe Is Model Region
LogIKTram is aimed at shifting goods transportation from road to rail, thus improving the transport climate balance. (Photo: Paul Gärtner, KVV)
LogIKTram is aimed at shifting goods transportation from road to rail, thus improving the transport climate balance. (Photo: Paul Gärtner, KVV)

The new collaboration project LogIKTram is aimed at increasingly shifting goods transportation from road to rail even for short to medium distances. The electric mobility solutions to be developed for commercial services in cities and regions will be based on the use of existing tram and railway infrastructures. Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Albtal-Verkehrs-Gesellschaft (AVG, a local transport company), FZI Research Center for Information Technology, an innovation partner of KIT, and other partners will devise a technical and logistical concept for a “goods tram” in Karlsruhe and will study the impacts on both road and rail traffic. LogIKTram is part of the regioKArgo initiative, in which new types of goods delivery services based on various transport means will be studied and implemented. 

In future, it will be necessary to increasingly shift the transportation of goods to rail in order to improve the climate balance in the transport sector and to relieve the cities. Presently, combined railway transportation mainly takes place between the big goods terminals or from and to harbors. In cities and urban agglomerations, rail-based goods transportation hardly plays any role. Goods are transported mainly on roads. Here, new traffic concepts are required. The LogIKTram  joint project is carried out by KIT in cooperation with the local transport company AVG and other partners. It is aimed at developing a logistics concept and an IT and communications platform for the future transportation of goods by tram and city railway vehicles. “We will use the existing tram and city railway infrastructure,” says Dr. Michael Frey, Deputy Head of the Institute of Vehicle System Technology (FAST), Division of Vehicle Technology, KIT. The Division of Railway System Technology of FAST and KIT’s Institute for Transport Studies are also involved in the project.

The project started on March 01, 2021 and is scheduled for a duration of three years. LogIKTram is funded with a total of about EUR 2.75 million by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi). The project is part of the regioKArgo initiative. Its goal is to study new types of goods transportation and delivery traffic and implement them in Karlsruhe and the surroundings. In this way, traffic will be increasingly shifted from road to rail and the last delivery mile will be emission-free. “The infrastructure existing in Karlsruhe is optimal for developing new types of goods transportation services and testing them in practice,” says Ascan Egerer, Technical Director of AVG. 

Goods Tram Transports Passengers and Goods

The LogIKTram project pursues various goals. Researchers of FAST will develop the technical concept for a “goods tram” in Karlsruhe, where urban tram lines have been interconnected with railway lines in the district for about 30 years now. AVG will provide an old vehicle that is planned to be adapted to the transportation of goods and tested for first demonstration. “On this basis, another project named regioKArgo tram train will operate the new tram not only in the depot, but also under real conditions in the region. We have applied for funding by the state,” Egerer says. Prior to operation under real conditions, other issues will be addressed, such as the transport concept, railway operation, goods handling processes, and the legal basis. 

Variable Interior Design to Create Space

For the goods tram to transport both passengers and goods, FAST will develop solutions to create space for the goods by a variable design of the interior. The transportation containers will be loaded and unloaded automatically and secured by hooks and bars. Precise positioning of the trams at the stations will be important to move the transport containers with centimeter precision and to observe the normal passenger boarding and alighting times. “Existing time tables shall be kept,” Frey explains.

Simulation of Passenger and Goods Transportation in the Region

KIT’s Institute for Transport Studies (IfV) will analyze the impacts of the concept on road and rail traffic. For this purpose, scientists will generate a simulation environment for passenger and goods transportation in the model region of Karlsruhe based on IfV’s mobiTopp transport demand model. Then, IfV will study various operation scenarios of LogIKTram and its impacts on traffic. “The project is aimed at reasonably utilizing the rail transport capacity as a function of time. It is important to consider and combine the requirements of both passenger and goods transport. The resulting combined passenger and goods transportation model for the first time will enable the evaluation of scenarios to optimize utilization of rail vehicles for transportation of passenger and goods and the development of sustainable and environmentally friendly concepts that reduce road traffic,” says Dr. Martin Kagerbauer, Member of the Board of IfV.

Logistics and Technical Requirements Will Be Incorporated in the IT and Communications Platform

MARLO Consultants, DB Engineering & Consulting, and Offenburg University of Applied Sciences will contribute their expertise to the development of commercial urban logistics, planning, and operation concepts. In cooperation with MARLO Consultants and INIT, the FZI Research Center for Information Technology will derive requirements from the use cases and incorporate them in the platform. The platform will support the simulation of vehicle, automated cargo handling, and drives in order to evaluate the LogIKTram concepts and the logistical and operational planning and control processes. Within the regioKArgo Initiative, it is planned to launch a number of public information activities and to ensure dialog with stakeholders and the public as well as technology and knowledge transfer in the region and to other regions. 

The project is coordinated by Albtal-Verkehrs-Gesellschaft (AVG). The partners are Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Offenburg University of Applied Sciences, FZI Research Center for Information Technology, and the companies of MARLO Consultants, SimPlan, INIT, and Thales Deutschland. DB Engineering & Consulting will be involved in the work on logistics and operation concepts as well as in the conception of combined tram/railway systems. Associated partners are various logistics companies as well as e-mobil BW, the Baden-Württemberg State Agency for New Mobility Solutions and Automotive. 

More about the KIT Mobility Systems Center:    

Being “The Research University in the Helmholtz Association”, KIT creates and imparts knowledge for the society and the environment. It is the objective to make significant contributions to the global challenges in the fields of energy, mobility, and information. For this, about 9,800 employees cooperate in a broad range of disciplines in natural sciences, engineering sciences, economics, and the humanities and social sciences. KIT prepares its 22,300 students for responsible tasks in society, industry, and science by offering research-based study programs. Innovation efforts at KIT build a bridge between important scientific findings and their application for the benefit of society, economic prosperity, and the preservation of our natural basis of life. KIT is one of the German universities of excellence.

or, 04.03.2021

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