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Confidence in feasibility cargo tram

7 March 2007 - CityCargo has confidence in the feasibility of introducing a cargo tram in Amsterdam. In June last year, the Hague municipality aborted similar plans, on the basis of a TNO report that concluded that a cargo tram will be ‘difficult to realise’.

For The Hague, the idea is not new: in the 1960s cargo trams used the tracks in between regular tram services. However, it would be costly to re-introduce the system.

According to a conservative estimate by TNO, it would cost between 14 and 23 euro per roll container. Using a lorry, the cost would be between 8 and 12 euro. According to TNO, transportation firms face intense price competition.

Incidentally, the calculation does not take favourable effects of transportation by tram into account, such as reduced pollution. Also, the costs of transportation by road may rise in the future, for example as a result of tougher environmental regulations.

TNO concludes that transportation by tram may only be a realistic option for products that demand high punctuality, such as the delivery of mail and documents, and perhaps clothing and other retail products.

On behalf of CityCargo, Jupijn Haffmans says that he is not concerned about the economic feasibility of a cargo tram in Amsterdam. Private investors in CityCargo would have long withdrawn had they not been convinced that the company can compete with other modes of transportation.

CityCargo is a consortium of engineering firm Grontmij and transportation company Veolia. Boer & Croon, a consultancy with close ties to the Amsterdam Municipality, is also involved.

For CityCargo it is important to be given sufficient time. Initially, it was supposed to be awarded a six-year concession. After preparations, this would leave only four years to earn back investments. The concession has now been extended to ten years.

The enterprise requires heavy investments in trams and distribution centres, with depreciation periods of thirty years, Haffmans said. A tram costs at least one and a half million euro, according to calculations by TNO.

Haffmans expects that a successful trial in Amsterdam may convince other municipalities that still have cold feet. CityCargo is already having exploratory talks with The Hague.

Photo: cargo tram at the Laan van Meerdervoort, The Hague, June 1970 ( See also: Cargo tram 'a bit madness'


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