Taking account of all freight transport issues

Science topics June 2013 CityTransport

Corinne Blanquart, Director of the SPLOTT Laboratory, AME Department

The volume of goods that are traded between different areas increases markedly with the economic development of cities and regions and with population growth. The trade in question is conducted by a transport chain consisting of road, air, rail, waterways and maritime components whose interactions and size must be managed in order to cope with ever more rapidly increasingdemand.

Freight transport issues are of major importance for the public authorities responsible for managing mobility, accessibility and the sustainability of cities and the national territory as a whole. It is sufficient to mention that in Paris, for example, every week there are 1.5 million freight movements (collections and deliveries) and that the total flow of freight amounts to 32 million tonnes per year. This impacts directly on air quality. Pollution from freight transport in urban areas can account for 20% of total emissions from the transport sector.
Therefore IFSTTAR pursues studies that are based on integrated approaches that set out to improve our understanding of freight flow systems and evaluate their sustainability in different zones (metropolitan and peri-urban areas and corridors). 


The environment that generates transport

The organisation of freight transport is closely linked to the production and trading activities that generate it. If we wish to take action in the area of transport we must be aware of the constraints that affect firms in the sectors which receive or dispatch freight (usually referred to as “shippers”) and the decisions they have made previously. In order to gain an understanding of the characteristics of transport and logistics, with regard to the productive strategies of these « shippers », ad hoc surveys, such as ECHO1 and the “Truck Driver Survey (Conducteur Poids Lourd) have been conducted.


The social environment of transport

Drivers, crews, warehouse operators, order pickers, logisticians, etc.
In France, transport undertakings employ 14% of the workers in the market services sector (INSEE). In order to gain a better understanding of the characteristics of transport, with regard to individuals’ relationship with their job and their work, we have focused on the characteristics of occupational groups in the transport sector and on the ways work is organised.


The spatial environment of transport

The principal nodes in transportchains, such as river ports, combined transport terminals and logistics hubs, play a key role in organising regions. They are the gateways to regions which manage the transport and logistics of freight for the consumption zones. Research in this field sets out to study urban freight transport and the presence of river ports in conurbations.


The institutional environment of transport

Sustainable mobility requires us to think about the production and distribution systems that play their role before transport. More precisely, we need to evaluate goods flow consolidation practices and the organisational solutions to be implemented at all levels of local and regional government. IFSTTAR’s researchers are thus focusing their activities on developing tools which improve the management of transport and logistics in order to tailor them better to specific contexts.



1 ECHO: Envois CHargeurs Opérateurs (Consignments Shippers Operators)