Freight, goods delivery and contract logistics is big business, and getting bigger. According to figures from Accenture, growth has been running at around 3 per cent a year, and even with a small fall, will continue to outpace global GDP growth. Much of the growth is behind the scenes, on a global scale. But just think about your office or workplace. How many more packages are now delivered than five years ago? Whether it is business related, or personal, that’s all been transported as freight.
However, as cities look at cutting back on the amount of cars and vans coming into their centres, we are seeing some more radical solutions to the challenges of delivery. And in Tokyo, one of its Metro networks is going to test the feasibility of working with parcel delivery services and using its subway trains as a way of bringing packages and parcels into the heart of the city.
Of course, rail has always carried freight, in the United States for example, it is this and not the passenger which is the biggest commercial driver of the network. However, with changing demands from freight carriers, the goods providers and customers themselves new solutions are being focussed upon.
In co-operation, with other rail and transportation firms, Tokyo Metro Co., the largest subway in Tokyo with a daily ridership of nearly 7 million passengers and as reported the Japan Times, is looking to co-operate with other rail and transportation firms including Yamato Transport Co., Sagawa Express Co. and Japan Post Co., as well as Tobu Railway Co., operator of the Tobu Tojo Line, which connects with Tokyo Metro’s Yurakucho Line on the project.
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The idea is that parcels will be loaded onto trains outside major cities, and then transported into stations in downtown Tokyo, where they will be then picked by trucks and distributed to homes and offices. This it is hoped will decrease the amount of trucks in the city centre, lowering congestion and pollution.
Trains and metros are a fast and reliable way of getting into city centres, and although there are capacity and infrastructure challenges, particularly at off-peak times it could be an area of growth. With this increase in packages and parcels, and rail and subway networks always battling for additional cash, this is an idea that we will be interested to follow closely.
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