The transport of goods causes energy consumption, carbon dioxide emissions and exhaust emissions. More and more logistics providers as well as cross border companies want to know the eco-impact of freight movements by various transport modes, in order to reduce this impact. Consequently, the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (ifeu) from Heidelberg, the Öko-Institut from Berlin, the Rail Management Consultants GmbH (RMCon/ IVE mbH) from Hanover developed the objective EcoTransIT-Tool in order to quantify the emissions from freight transport. This Project was initiated by five European railway companies in 2000- DB Schenker Rail, Schweizerische Bundesbahnen (SBB), Green Cargo AB, Trenitalia S.p.A, Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français (SNCF). New partners have subsequently joined: Red Nacional de los Ferrocarriles Españoles (RENFE) and Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Belges (SNCB). All project partners provide information for the database and constantly update the tool according to national policies and state-of-the-art information.
EcoTransIT identifies the environmental impacts of freight transportation in terms of direct energy consumption and emissions during the operation of vehicles during the transport of products. Moreover, the calculation covers the indirect energy consumption and emissions related to production, transportation and the distribution of energy required for operating the vehicles. There are many factors that determine the level of the environmental impacts in freight transport. An exhaustive array of influencing factors serves as the basis in computing impacts. This allows the user to alter the factors of the EcoTransIT application, according to a company's individual conditions.
Used by companies of all sizes, EcoTransIT is as pertinent to the study of large-scale flows as it is to the analysis of an individual movement. The input parameters and the process of analysis are proof of the tool's refinement:
- For each mode of transport a GIS-system details the routes taken by the goods
- The computations integrate any transhipments at frontier crossings, or those occurring in piggybacking
- The volumetric weight of the transported cargo allows a precise assessment of the size of the trains
- The type of loading locations (rail station, harbour, airport, roadway platform) enables accurate modelling to reflect reality
EcoTransIT compares the energy consumption and emissions of freight transported by rail, road, ship and aircraft. It also takes into account the intermodal transport services and the different technical standards of the vehicles.
Responding to the needs of companies on a European scale, the criteria particular to each country, such as energy combinations and topology, are included in the calculations. Accordingly, EcoTransIT can a be used for routes traversing Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
The result of each calculation is presented in the form of diagrams. They compare the energy consumption and emissions of different environmental pollutants and differentiate between selected modes of transports. Thus, the user can easily select the routes and transportation mode with the lowest environmental impact.
Due to the scientific basis of the data and the independent partners, the calculations of EcoTransIT provide reliable results that contribute to the environmental balance sheet of companies. It can help to create a sustainable energy strategy, integrating efficient production processes and low-impact logistical solutions as well as promoting the rational consumption of scarce resources.