The German government is funding research to determine whether there would be enough shipper support to justify establishing special trains that would carry palletized freight between cities. The purpose of the palletized rail service would be to reduce traffic congestion and improve the environment, said Peter G. Klaus, a professor at the University of Erlangen-Nuernberg in a presentation at the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) 2010 Annual Global Conference in San Diego.
As described by Klaus, under the proposed system trucks would transport palletized freight to rail terminals, where the cargo would be offloaded into specially designed rail cars. The train would then carry the palletized freight to another city, where the goods would be offloaded onto a truck for local delivery.
The pallet-carrying train project is just the latest environmental initiative involving transportation in Germany. Over the last two decades, the government—pushed by the country's Green Party—has promoted programs to reduce energy consumption in transportation.