Freight transport concept North Rhine-Westphalia


Component “Logistics hub and origin/destination traffic”


Situated at the heart of Europe at the border to the Netherlands and Belgium, North Rhine-Westphalia plays a vital role in German and European freight transport, including transit transport, due to its industry-heavy economy. In addition, NRW is significant for the hinterland connections of the large North Sea ports of Antwerp, Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Hamburg, for rail as well as for road and water transportation.

Since freight transport is expected to increase steadily in the coming years due to globalization and the state needs to be prepared for this increase, NRW as a freight transport hub must be examined regarding the infrastructural capacities and bottlenecks of transhipment points. Key location factors for freight transport hubs are, among others, accessibility via road, room to manoeuvre, good transport quality, and approaches that are compatible with urban structures and environmentally sustainable.

Aims of the project:

For the project “Freight transport concept North Rhine-Westphalia”, the Ministerium für Bauen, Wohnen, Stadtentwicklung und Verkehr of North Rhine-Westphalia (Ministry of Building, Housing, Urban Development and Transport) planned a concept to improve NRW’s capable working transport infrastructure in order to ensure and increase NRW’s location quality in the long term. Against this background, the Institute of Urban and Transport Planning collaborated with PLANCO Consulting GmbH in Essen and the Aachen Ingenieurgesellschaft IVV GmbH & Co. KG on the component “Logistics hub and origin/destination traffic”. The subject of this study was to record existing terminals and to check where expansion is required due to existing or future bottlenecks.

Project contents and structure:

Achieving the aims of the project required

an analysis and comparison of the existing and planned capacities and the expected future demand for transport networks, central axes, and transhipment points,

determining uncovered demand and recommending changes to the current planning, and

identifying transportation projects that require further political or financial action.

In order to do so, so-called freight transport hubs were determined and analysed. Freight transport hubs exist wherever cargo is exchanged at bimodal (road/waterway or road/rail) or trimodal (road/rail/waterway) terminals.

In order to determine expected bottlenecks in bi- or trimodal terminals in NRW and the resulting need for expansion or new construction, we developed a demand cadastre for the origin and destination traffic of freight transport. This cadastre consisted of operation lists sorted by size class and assigned to key locations of freight transport demand, industries, and important categories of cargo. Based on the demand cadastre, large demanders in NRW that are relevant users of road, rail and waterway infrastructure are determined.

The tasks of the ISB were primarily to conduct written interviews with the large demanders and to evaluate this survey. The survey covered the following topics:

  • Volume and structure of freight transport,
  • transport modes chosen,
  • bi- or trimodal terminals used in NRW,
  • the expected long-term development of freight transport demand,
  • existing and expected infrastructural bottlenecks in NRW terminals,
  • possibilities and obstacles of an increased usage of rail and inland water transport, and
  • willingness to participate in an in-depth interview.

In addition, the ISB conducted street space analyses of the approaches to bi- and trimodal terminals. These included the room to manoeuvre as well as noise pollution and congestion. The results of the survey, the street space analysis and the results of the other project partners constitute the basis for action recommendations for the ministry regarding the hubs in NRW.


Ministerium für Bauen, Wohnen, Stadtentwicklung und Verkehr of North Rhine-Westphalia (Ministry of Building, Housing, Urban Development and Transport)

Project duration:

April 2009 – January 2010

Project partners:

PLANCO Consulting GmbH, Essen
Ingenieurgruppe IVV GmbH & Co. KG, Aachen (IVV)
Institute of Urban and Transport Planning, RWTH Aachen University (ISB)

Contacts at the ISB:

Claudia Gilles, M. A., Dipl.-Ing. Anke Ruckes