The EU e-Freight Initiative


The Freight Logistics Action Plan[1] was launched by the European Commission, amongst a number of policy initiatives, to help Europe address key transport challenges including: 

•  Sustainable Quality and Efficiency
•  Simplification of Transport Chains
•  “Green” Freight Transport Corridors
•  Urban Freight Logistics
•  Vehicle Dimensions and Loading Standards
The Freight Logistics Action Plan relies on co-modality and on advanced technology to provide a competitive European surface freight transport[2] system whilst promoting environmental sustainability.
In this context, the notion of e-Freight was introduced as a means to support electronic exchange of information in business to business and business to administration relations.  e-Freight is also part of the Action Plan for the Deployment of Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS)[3] in Europe.
"e-freight", denotes the vision of paperless freight transport processes where an electronic flow of information is linked to the physical flow of goods. Specific objectives include:

 Administrative simplification across transport modes.
•  Standardisation of information exchanges relating to location and other cargo information.
•  Development of secure ways of making supply chain information (including “en route” information on the location and condition of transported goods) available on-line to customs, other regulatory authorities and businesses.
•  Development of practical ways of using positioning and communication technologies (e.g. radio frequency identification - RFID, Dedicated Short Range Communication - DSRC, and applications of the EGNOS/Galileo satellite positioning system).
•  Improved integration and interoperability of computer applications used by different stakeholders involved in freight transport
•  Synergistic development with the e-Maritime and other related EU initiatives.
e-Freight related developments are expected to lead in the future to “Intelligent Cargo”, meaning that goods will become self-context and location-aware as well as connected to a wide range of information services thus automating further the transportation management process.
The key issues to be addressed include:

1.  To enable transport users (shippers, freight forwarders, etc) to identify and use direct or combined transport services most suited for their purpose we need open freight transport e-market places[4]. This is dependent on transport service providers publishing their services in the internet in a manner that can readily be used by independent web based transport management systems.
2.  To achieve efficient use of the different transport modes on their own and in combination (co-modality), stakeholders need improved means to strategically manage networks, plan shipments and to control the implementation of such strategies and plans.  For this, transport stakeholders need  to establish common end-to-end transportation processes incorporating regulations compliance and ‘intelligent’ monitoring and control.   
3.  A prerequisite for the development of a European network of integrated transport chains, linking road, rail and waterborne resources in an optim