If the vision of a sustainable future is to become reality, everything from the impact of emissions on the climate to congestion and noise has to minimised.
To succeed all stakeholders, industrial, academic and social have to cooperate. That was the conclusion reached when representatives from all of these sectors med the Minister for Infrastructure Anna Johansson in Göteborg on 23 May for a round-table discussion of future innovations.
Buying a second-hand cycle in Växjö and then getting it taken to Sundsvall is not all that easy. Established transport solutions do not work very well when private individuals buy from each other.
That is why Baghitch is a company that wants to be able to link people who are driving to a specific destination with people who want something transported to the same place.
At the moment there is a lot of discussion about whether we have to own everything we need or if sharing would not work just as well. Is there really any point in owning a car when it is only used for a small percentage of the time. Or an electric drill that spends most of its time lying in a toolbox.
Fundamentally this phenomenon is about finding ways of making better use of resources and is part of a trend that is often categorised under the concept of the sharing economy.
Sweden has the best possible chances for making its energy system totally renewable. This was the claim made by three ministers when they presented what the government was doing for fossil-free transport and travel.
”It’s not just our aim but it’s also the most likely scenario. All the other alternatives are poorer, both for the climate, the economy and for growth,” said Ibrahim Baylan, the Minister for Energy.
Sweden is to be one of the world’s first fossil-free welfare states. This was declared in mid-April by Åsa Romson, Minister for Climate and the Environment, Ibrahim Baylan, Minister for Energy and the Minister for Infrastructure, Anna Johansson, when they presented the government’s current and future actions in this area.
Two members of the Swedish Riksdag, one a Liberal the other a Social Democrat, and the Drive Me project collectively invited all those interested to attend a seminar entitled Driverless vehicles – a threat or possibility at the Riksdag.
All of the speakers agreed that driverless vehicles offer Sweden an opportunity, not least because of the close cooperation that exists between all the Swedish stakeholders.
Driverless vehicles are increasingly at the top of the agenda for everyone interested in transport issues. And the subject is important in the Riksdag as well.
Two members of the Riksdag, Mathias Sundin (L) and Pia Nilsson (S), joined with the Drive Me project at the beginning of March to invite both politicians, industrialists and public authorities to a hearing on driverless vehicles. The question was whether they pose a threat or create possibilities.
Mathias Sundin began the meeting with the words: ”Driverless vehicles create fantastic possibilities not least in the area of road safety. My guess is that in 20 years we will no longer be allowed to drive ourselves on public roads. It will be something we do for fun, in closed-off areas.”
This year the Forum for Transport Innovation did not have to elect a new board.
The current members were elected last year for a period of two years. During the year some of the members have, however, changed jobs and therefore resigned. At the council meeting it was decided to replace them with new members from the companies they had represented.
Gustav Sjöblom’s research on the Forum for Transport Innovation has been going on for three years. His report has now been published.
At times it is critical, at times sympathetic. He himself is often impressed.
“The Forum is unique. I have not been able to find any other examples of so many different stakeholders in an entire social sector cooperating at a strategic level.”
The analysis company Oxford Research was asked by the Forum for Transport Innovation to find out what the Swedish transport stakeholders who are taking part in the first call for proposals from the European research programme Horizon 2020 think about their participation. Better and worse is the simplest way of summarising the findings. These were presented during a seminar that could also be viewed directly by Internet – a broadcast that can also be watched retrospectively.
All over the world the traffic situation is becoming increasingly chaotic. Expanding the fixed infrastructure is not the solution, and is often not even possible. Instead it will be intelligent information systems that get rid of traffic jams. Although the idea is not a new one, today there is every possibility of succeeding. Development of a national strategy will help to achieve this dream.
ITS is a concept that has been around for many years. The abbreviation stands for intelligent traffic systems and the underlying concept is that intelligent solutions will help to deal with traffic congestion, reduce the transport sector’s environmental impact and enable all road users to make sensible choices.
These are not new ideas. For several decades public agencies and companies have developed one national ITS strategy after another. A few practical applications have emerged but the genuine breakthrough has not yet taken place, so that some stakeholders are beginning to lose faith. Others are still convinced that this is the right track. Now perhaps more than ever before. Above all because the basic technology is no longer a real obstacle.
“The real difficulties in introducing intelligent solutions are more a matter of what the regulations are going to look like and also to get coordination between different stakeholders,” Christer Karlsson claims, CEO of ITS-Sweden, an impartial organisation in which both companies and public agencies can collaborate on the development and promotion of intelligent traffic solutions – a process that has been going on since 1999.
For several years Sweden’s railway sector has been waiting for Shift2Rail, the EU’s major railway initiative, to get off the ground. The first call for tenders will probably be announced during the autumn, which is why the Forum for Transport Innovation recently gathered representatives from the sector for an information meeting in the middle of May. But there are still more questions than answers.
Research on rail traffic has seldom been the object of so many tempting promises as it is at the moment. Not least financial ones. Within the framework of the Shift2Rail research programme, the EU will invest at least SEK 8 billion in partnership with industry and public agencies. The aim is explicit: for more goods to travel by rail, which will in its turn promote European competitiveness.
Examined in greater detail this means raising capacity and making rail transport more reliable while at the same time reducing costs dramatically.
So far it all sound fine. The reverse side of this ambitious initiative is the time it has taken to get everything in place, which has led to growing frustration for many of the intended stakeholders.
Now, however, there is hope of the programme getting off the ground. The idea is to announce the first call for tenders during the autumn, which would mean that concrete research could start during the second quarter of 2016.
But still there are more questions than answers for the public agencies, companies and universities that want to be involved in the initiative. To help to clarify the issues the Forum for Transport Innovation held an information meeting in the middle of May.
At The Forum Council meeting on February 4 was an new Board of Directors elected.
“Current political discussions on transport policy mainly deal with what we should not be doing.”
This was what Karin Svensson Smith claimed during her speech to the Forum council meeting. Instead she would like to focus on what it is possible to achieve.
Karin Svensson Smith chairs the Swedish Riksdag’s traffic committee – a post that gives her a great deal of influence over what approach Sweden is going to choose for transport in the future. Some of her work therefore involves meeting the sector to hear what opinions are expressed.
For this reason she was invited to attend and speak to the meeting of the Forum council at the beginning of February.
In her speech she said that in her current role she wants to encourage broad agreement across political demarcation lines that will survive irrespective of the results of future elections.
The British government has decided to allow tests with automated vehicles on public roads. There is, however, one condition – a requirement that there has to be a driver in the vehicle ready to take over the controls if needed.
Railroads are doing well in America, at least for freight traffic. Thanks to a long period of improved productivity, technical developments, restructuring in the industry, and higher utilisation rates, the sector has gained clear competitive advantages compared to road transport.
The Forum’s City logistics – Goods transport in urban areas road map did not result in any ready-made solutions or proposals.
“We succeeded with something more important. For the first time discussion began between different stakeholders, and this is starting to have an impact in the municipalities,” says Maria Lindholm at Closer, who was responsible for the project.
When the City logistics – Goods transport in urban areas road map was presented to the board of Forum early in 2014 its working group were asked repeatedly why it had did not include a list of concrete measures – opinions that Maria Lindholm, responsible for the work on the road map, says she understands.
“We succeeded with something more important. A large group of different stakeholders got together for the first time to discuss the question. The result today is that we share the view that there are major shortcomings where transport in cities is concerned.
On 1 January 2015 the environmental demands for vessels navigating Swedish waters were tightened up. The amount of sulphur in their fuel has to be reduced radically.
“We understand that tougher and tougher environmental demands are going to be introduced. On the other hand, what we find difficult to accept is that new regulations are laid down without any analysis at all of their consequences,” says Harry Robertsson, Technical Director at Stena Rederi AB.
In today’s world vessels are generally powered by heavy fuel oil that contains high concentrations of sulphur. This means that shipping is one of the major sources of emissions of sulphur oxides. There is little doubt that this affects people’s health and reduces PH-levels in the oceans.
Vessels navigating the world’s oceans are currently allowed to use fuel that contains up to 3.5 per cent sulphur. In the Baltic and the North Sea the rules have been more stringent and until the end of last year the limit was one per cent.
According to the Forum’s HTC Väg roadmap, longer and heavier vehicles offer an effective means of reducing the environmental impact of the transport sector and road wear.
It is only when every aspect of a journey becomes part of a functional whole that transportation can be efficient and sustainable. This is the message of the Traffic Management for all Types of Traffic roadmap.
To attain this we need to be able to exchange information as well as greater cooperation between different types of traffic and stakeholders.
Today’s transport system is complex. Irrespective of whether a journey is being made or goods transported, several different carriers are required. In addition public agencies are involved together with state-owned and private companies. It does not matter whether each of these forms of transport function perfectly: they all also have to work together when it comes to timing and economic and environmental impact if the entire process is to function well.
If Sweden is going to be able to create a sustainable transport system, the sector has to be able to recruit individuals with commitment and expertise. For this reason the Forum has stated that one of its tasks is to stimulate the provision of the required skills.
During the meeting of the Forum board in mid-November the Public Transport as a basic principle for social planning roadmap was approved.
It sounds like a paradox: with longer and heavier truck-trailer combinations on our roads, we could improve the environment, as well as saving a lot of money. But it is in fact possible, according to a roadmap on higher-capacity vehicles, developed by a working group for the Forum for Innovation in the Transport Sector.
Sweden and Finland are the exceptions within the EU. Here, it is legal to drive combinations of trucks and trailers that are considerably heavier and longer than are permitted in the other member states. Under current regulations, they can be up to 25.25 metres long, with a maximum weight of 60 tonnes. In the rest of the EU, the length and weight limits are 18.75 metres and 40 tonnes.