Delft University of Technology
Faculty Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering
Transport Technology

C. Kok Ontwikkeling van personenvervoer in Europa
Literature survey, Report 2008.TEL.7225, Transport Engineering and Logistics.

In our modern society, private and cargo transportation is essential for prosperity. People need transportation for professional and private activities. Since the early sixties of the twenteeth century private transportation has increased tremendously. Especially commuter and recreational traffic are responsible for a heavy load of the transportation network. A further increase in mobility is foreseen. The car will be undiminishedly popular and for 2030 the forecast is that three quarters of global travelling will take place by private car.

The expansion of the traffic infrastructure does not cover the enormous growth of the world population and the higher demand for transport in emerging economies. The decreasing fossil fuel sources, the environmental impact and the safety of motorized traffic is a concern. Europe and other continents are facing an enormous challenge to manage four issues: growing demand for mobility, environmental aspects, sustainability and safety topics.

In this literature research an analysis is provided of present developments in the mobility problem and the future demand for transportation systems based on the expected need for transport. Innovations in the transport sector (rails, water and road transportation) have to face up to the mobility growth and the unwanted side effects on sustainability, environment, and safely.

The car owes its popularity to the possibility of door-to-door travelling, high speed, flexibility, comfort and status, however, side effects exist. Sustainability: The transportation sector is responsible for the use of 35% of total energy and also contributes to global warming. The environment is polluted due to acidification and emission of harmful substances. Safety: New technologies, safe driving regulations and public information have reduced the total number of casualties in the EU from 56.000 in 1991 to 40.000 in 2002, however, this is still a major loss.

Mobility problem: Commuter traffic generates the biggest challenge. This is due to an increasing urbanization i.e., 80% of the Europeans live in urban areas. This creates a major burden on the traffic network. The mobility problem has increased significantly during the last decades. Total congestion increased six-fold since 1990 as did the vehicle loss hours, defined as the extra travel time because of traffic jams. The estimated costs for the Dutch society amount to almost 30 billions euros until 2020. There are multiple causes for the mobility problem but clearly governments have underestimated the problem.

Local and national governments in Europe have taken measures varying from behaviour change of motorists to infrastructural adaptations. Besides efforts to tackle the mobility problem like constructing highways, stimulating public transport, introducing road pricing, and providing subsidy for 'green' cars, new project plans on the European level have been formulated. The European transport network (TEN-T) project (costs 600 billion euro), proposed by the EU, should result in an efficient transportation network in the next decades. However, it's not a permanent solution i.e., commuter transport will not benefit very much. So far, the efforts of governments have only partly been successful and the allocated budgets to increase the transport capacity have not been sufficient.

The development of new transportation systems requires adequate expectations of future mobility needs. Europe's traffic volume increased with 62% between 1980 and 1997 and car use will keep on growing with 2% per year, because for the time being there is no alternative for the car.

Schäfer from Cambridge University analyzed the long term trends in traveller's mobility [A. Schäfer "The Bridge Winter 2006 - Long-Term Trends in Global Passenger Mobility", Oxford (2006)]. The demand for private transportation depends on the population growth and the increase in income. The average daily travel time (about 1.2 hours per day) turns out to be independent of the income level. Moreover a typical phenomenon of modern industrialized countries is the increasing amount of money spent on mobility with growing prosperity.
To analyze the future developments in mobility Schäfer correlated the number of travelled kilometers per person (PKT) with the gross domestic product (GDP) over the last 50 years in several world regions, for four of the most important transport systems (car, bus, train, plane). An increase in GDP resulted in a higher PKT and because travel time is independent of income, Schäfer concludes that this higher PKT needs to be covered in the same travel time. So faster and/or more efficient transportation systems are needed, i.e., high speed transportation systems need to grow enormously the coming 50 years.
For long distance transportation, high speed trains, airplanes and other fast transit systems are required. For short distance traffic, current automobile transport will serve and efficient interurban public transport systems need to be constructed. Car transportation will first show a constant growth to subsequently turn into a relative decrease.

For systems like rail, water and road (car and bus) interesting developments can be observed. The unmanned bus and the automatic highway are yet utopia, but innovations are going fast and fully automated transport systems are not merely futuristic.

Rail. The train is especially attractive for long distance transportation. Fast hybrid trains, with dual-mode (electric and diesel), dual voltage and multi current offer the possibility to use almost all railway systems in Europe. Most interurban trams are replaced by bus services to reduce the costs or by light rail systems to offer more capacity. For subways, air tire systems appear on the scene and a special version is the subway with an overhead rail. However, horizon pollution and high infrastructural costs hamper the construction of these new systems.

Like the train, the light rail uses the principle of right-of-way, its railway is separated from the other traffic. Significant improvements have been made in the development of very high speed trains.
High-speed rail is a type of passenger rail transport that operates significantly faster than the normal speed of rail traffic. Operating speed is 200 km/hour and faster depending on whether the track is upgraded or new. Examples are the Train à Grande Vitesse (TGV), Thalys, Inter City Express (ICE) and the Bullet Train in Japan. A new development is the magnet train, which floats on a magnetic field and is propelled by a linear induction motor, reaching a maximum speed of around 400 km/hour. The train follows guidance tracks with magnets and is referred to as Magnetically Levitated trains, abbreviated to MagLev. The system is safe, maintenance costs are expected to be low, but the high investment costs are a hindrance.

Water. Location, climate, environment and tourism all determine the success of water transportation (water taxi or shuttle) around big cities. In Amsterdam and Rotterdam for example this system has not been successful. The ferry covers larger distances and the modern versions are equipped with aero foils. Effective passenger traffic is impossible for cities without an adequate water network.

Road: bus transportation. Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is a new system with often a hybrid electric power as well as a private roadway to bring passengers faster to their destination. BRT can provide a comparable service as the light rail, tram or other transit system, however, investment costs are lower for vehicle and infrastructure. With intelligent transport systems traffic control, navigation, information service and automatic driving is possible. This bus service has high potential because of the advanced technical developments in the cargo sector, high flexibility, low purchase and maintenance costs.

Road: car transportation. The automobile branch is continuously in the process of producing sustainable, environment friendly and safe cars as well as the development of innovative transportation systems which can solve the increasing demanf for mobility.
Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) designed a prototype of a lightweight electric vehicle that can be cheaply mass-produced, and folded and stacked like grocery carts at subway stations or other central sites.
Advanced Driver Assistance (ADA) with Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC), Lane Keeping System and Collision Warning Systems constitute the start of the automatic highway (platooning). Platooning will improve safety, efficiency, fuel consumption and travel time and will diminish traffic jams and air pollution. Automatic driving enhances passenger comfort because of a faster travel with less speed variations.

Fully automated systems. These so called People Movers make use of a guide rail and are mostly automatically steered by sensors. Small automatic buses, cable railways or monorails transport small groups of people (Group Rapid Transit) or an individual passenger (Personal Rapid Transit: PRT). Over the years the People Mover evolved into the Automatic People Mover (APM), which are interesting but expensive because of his guided railway. High capacity routes like business parks and airports are especially suitable to use these movers. The Electronic People Mover system is fully automated, has units at it's disposal for 4-20 persons for ondemand transport, has high frequency, is suitable for a dense transport network en requires simple infrastructure. Rivium is a nice example of an EPM and London Heathrow is the first airport who runs a PRT named ULTra system.
The SkyTran system consists of small wagons carrying the traveller with 160 km/hour close to his desired destination. The streamlined lightweight wagons cling to elevated maglev railways. SkyTran is based on MagLev technology and is easily accessible. The lightweight cable railway results in lower costs compared to for example Light Rail systems. But a problem arises when one of the vehicles breakes down.

The Dual-Mode enables private car use on the entire route. A guide rail next to or over the highway takes the car without any action of the driver or traffic congestion to its destination. Traffic jams on the regular highway are passed and at the right exit the car leaves the highway and can switch over to its own fuel. This way door-to-door transport is possible and travelling is more convenient, safer, cheaper, and faster without CO2 emission or consumption of fossil fuel. The capacity and speed of the Dual-Mode system is much higher compared to transport via the automatic highway (Platooning) and it therefore seems an interesting system to improve mobility. However, a long design and test phase is required and introduction is not to be expected before 2040.

Will future transport systems bring the solution for the mobility problem? Is it conceivable that Dual-mode systems, PRTs and automatic City Cars will ever come fully into effect in our society or is in 15 years the current car type still the predominant way of transportation? Introduction of new automated transport systems step by step must be possible and the time horizon for sustainable, environment friendly and safe cars should not be very far off. Joint efforts by R&Ds from automobile industries, governments and consumers will speed up the process to an optimal way of transportation.

Reports on Transport Engineering and Logistics (in Dutch)
Modified: 2008.05.12; , TU Delft / 3mE / TT / LT.