We first mentioned CityCargo on Worldchanging a little over a year ago, in Alex's essay, My Other Car is a Bright Green City. We have since learned from Richard Valkering, a member of the Amsterdam Oud-Zuid District Council, that the plan to build a fully operating system in Amsterdam is no longer moving forward, due to lack of finances, and CityCargo is going out of business. But we saw real potential in their idea, and hope that others are able to build on what CityCargo's innovative founders started.
This small company in the Netherlands planned to change the way we think about distributing goods throughout our busy urban centers. After completing a successful pilot program in Amsterdam in 2007, CityCargo aimed to establish a full-scale operation in Amsterdam that they claimed would cut the number of large freight trucks traversing the city by half. The best part of their model was that it used infrastructure that's already in place: Amsterdam's existing trams will carry cargo from distribution centers on the city fringe to urban hubs, where CityCargo's fleet of electric vehicles will transport it a short distance to its final destination.
Taking large trucks off the roads in major cities reduces not only transportation-related CO2, but also eases congestion and makes streets safer for all users. CityCargo's website notes that before the plan fell through, they had been in touch with many other cities internationally, including Rotterdam, The Hague, Brussels, Gent, Paris, Lisbon, Berlin, Vienna, Prague, Riga, Tokyo and San Francisco.
We're impressed by the concept's elegant simplicity, and by the company's commitment to using existing technology more efficiently to improve the urban landscape for everyone. Although we're disappointed to learn that this plan will not be realized, we're encouraged by how far they came, and hope that others are able to build on similar ideas in the future.
Update to this post, 4/7/09
French public transit operator Transdev (the parent company of Dutch transit operator Connexxion), has shown an interest in reviving CityCargo. More here, or see the English translation below, courtesy of Worldchanging ally Richard Valkering:
New opportunity for the freight tram
Connexxion will try to give the new cargo tram new life
Transdev, the French parent company of Connexxion is examining if the bankrupt concept still has a chance. In December the curtain dropped for the company that wanted to supply the inner city with cargo trams and electric minitrucks. The municipality demanded that Citycargo would pay the rent for the tracks in advance and the company could not finance that. The coming months will become clear whether the French are interested in the cargo tram.
Photos courtesy of CityCargo.
Editor's note: This comment appeared on an earlier version of the article above. We have since updated this post with corrected information.
This is already old news, since the plans appear to have halted. The company had problems finding funding for their project. The municipality didn’t want to help out because they only wanted the cargo trams if they where economically sound. CityCargo has gone into receivership now. There where rumours that Veolia would help out, but I haven’t heard news about that lately. See http://www.mindsinmotion.net/index.php/mimv34/themes/diverse/features/citycargo and http://www.railwaygazette.com/news_view/article/2009/02/9299/urban_rail_news_in_brief_february_2009.html
There was more controversy, though. Residents around a square were one stop was planned (Cornelis Troostplein) protested because of possible noise and the impact it would have on the square. Also people where afraid that the small electric cars would make for extra traffic congestion.
There were also questions whether the concept would work for the logistic market. An old fashioned truck can drive directly to the store; with the cargo tram two extra moments for overhauling were needed. Plus: a cargo tram drives on the regular tram tracks, so it has to halt at every stop if it is to close behind a passenger tram.
In my opinion, it’s better to skip the cargo tram in the process, an load the cargo directly on electric trucks that can drive directly to the stores.
district councilmember Amsterdam Oud-Zuid
testing if it is possible to post?
I would be interested in having someone contact me so I may learn more about the Citycargo business model. I would be looking at the feasibility of an operation in North America. I can be reached at 416 578-9066 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
I am a researcher from Sweden and I too am very interested in getting in contact with people that know more about this urban intermodal freight solution.
Vänliga hälsningar/Best regards
Department of Business Administration
School of Business, Economics and Law at the University of Gothenburg
405 30 Göteborg
Visiting: Vasagatan 1