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Vienna: Parcel transport by tram

The project team of Wiener Linien and Fraunhofer Austria in front of a tram and solar-powered parcel station I © Fraunhofer Austria

In Vienna, parcels are to be delivered by tram in the future. A new project by Wiener Linien and the Fraunhofer Institut Austria envisages that parcels will be transported by passengers in the tram and dropped off at parcel stations, probably from 2024 onwards. The aim is to reduce the volume of traffic in the city and cut CO2 emissions.

A feasibility study conducted last year by Fraunhofer Austria and Wiener Linien already showed a great willingness on the part of passengers to take parcels on the tram. Now, as part of the “Öffi-Packerl” project led by Fraunhofer Austria, work is starting on the concrete concept as well as the development of the necessary app and the parcel stations, which will also function without an electricity connection thanks to solar energy. At the same time, the project will be extended to other, more rural regions in Austria. 

More and more online orders lead to more and more parcel deliveries, which are currently mainly handled by delivery vans. In terms of climate protection and also to increase the quality of life in the city and to reduce the burden and emissions from traffic, it is urgently necessary to change this. One approach for covering the small parcel sector is crowdsourcing delivery: people who use public transport in the city voluntarily take parcels from one parcel station to another. Suitable parcels are found with the help of an app in which users enter their planned commuting route. The parcel station can also be opened with the help of the app.

In future, parcels will be provided by passengers in the tram I © Fraunhofer Austria

In order for parcel transport in the tram to enter the test phase, there is now some development work to be done. The experts from Fraunhofer Austria, in cooperation with Wiener Linien and the company netwiss OG, will analyse passenger flows to identify suitable tram lines and the ideal positions for the parcel stations. Upstream – next level mobility GmbH will develop the app, the necessary algorithm, which is able to connect the entered routes with the suitable parcels, will be provided by the TU Wien Institute for Computer Technology. Österreichische Post AG will provide essential data needed to identify the most suitable routes, and Variocube GmbH will develop the energy-autonomous, modular parcel boxes that will be set up at up to eight locations during the test phase. 

Vienna is not the first city in Europe that wants to bring goods onto the tram. Frankfurt/ Main and Karlsruhe have launched projects for freight transport by tram/ light rail. We reported here:

But it is not only in Vienna that the concept is to be developed and tested as part of the project. With GRT Spedition und Logistik GmbH and Malerei Großbötzl, two Upper Austrian companies are also on board. “We want to think beyond Vienna and find out whether the concept is also suitable for rural areas. The cooperation with Malerei Großbötzl gives us the opportunity to carry out our tests of the sustainable sales process for the area around Ried im Innkreis as well,” explains project manager Matthias Hayek. The project “Öffi-Packerl: Entwicklung und Pilotierung eines Prototypen für die Abwicklung der letzten Meile im öffentlichen Verkehrssystem” (Public Transport Packer: Development and Piloting of a Prototype for the Handling of the Last Mile in the Public Transport System), funded by the Federal Ministry for Climate Protection, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology (BMK) through the Austrian Research Foundation (FFG), has a duration of just under three years; the first test deliveries are expected to be carried out in 2024. 

Wilfried Sihn, Managing Director of Fraunhofer Austria, says: “One of our most important focuses at Fraunhofer Austria is the development of concepts for sustainable business. Our research activities cover topics such as the planning of green factories as well as sustainable workplace design or climate-friendly logistics, to name just a few examples. I am pleased that we will continue to pursue such a promising approach to green logistics in the ‘Öffi-Packerl’ project together with a strong consortium.”

Ruzica Cavala, project manager at Österreichische Post AG, says about the project: “Professional logistics is a complex process that often goes unnoticed by customers. With this research project, we want to open up the process for the first time and jointly examine what potential local public transport offers when it is connected to the efficient infrastructure of Österreichische Post AG. 

“Innovation and sustainability go hand in hand at Wiener Linien. This is exactly where the new research project ‘Öffi-Packerl’ comes in. The results of the feasibility study have shown how great the interest in climate-friendly parcel delivery is among our passengers. Now we have to define the framework conditions and explore what is possible together with the research partners. As Wiener Linien, we are very excited about the next steps of the project,” says Alexandra Reinagl, Managing Director of Wiener Linien.

Sources: Fraunhofer Austria/ Wiener Linien

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Long Branch Mike
1 year ago

What a great idea, combining trams & on foot tram passenger couriers!