Optimal Transportation Plans and Portfolios for Synchromodal Container Networks



The dissertation proposes an integrated approach for optimising synchromodal container transportation, motivated by two separate trends in the container transportation practice in North-West Europe. On the one hand, competition in hinterland transportation and a societal need for a modal shift towards sustainable modes require more integrated network optimisation of container transports. On the other hand, hinterland users increasingly require a cost-effective, but flexible and reliable delivery service. The concept of synchromodality was developed as an answer to these developments, combining network planning with a business model based on customer-oriented transportation services. This dissertation contributes to this concept by bringing together optimal transport planning in intermodal networks and the design of an optimal fare class mix of customer-oriented services. It includes 5 new models for operating such a synchromodal transportation network: service network design, disturbance analysis, real-time decision support and two variants of the cargo fare class mix design. All models are developed with the perspective of a centralised operator in an intermodal container network, with scheduled services between a deep-sea terminal and multiple inland ports. These scheduled services can be trains or barges, but not necessarily both have to be available. All 5 models have been applied to case studies based on the intermodal container network of European Gateway Services (EGS), a subsidiary of Hutchison Ports ECT Rotterdam (ECT). The results show that both an integrated planning of container networks and a differentiated service portfolio are crucial for successful synchromodal network operation.