BRAIN-TRAINS deals with rail freight intermodality, and the extent to which it can be made successful, under market, society and policy-making challenges, and analyzing how intermodality contributes to answering these challenges. Starting point is the relative weak usage of this type of transport.
The research aims at building on existing knowledge, integrating, and approaching the problem from an interdisciplinary perspective. It tackles five issues which both scientifically, for the sector and for policy-makers are still unresolved.
- Scientifically, because till present, most research deals with the individual modes of transport, but hardly ever is the chain perspective taken and translated into measurement, calculation and indicator analysis.
- For the sector, as the individual modes are still very much fragmented in working in isolated ways, also geographically: country borders are real obstacles to the well-functioning of international transport, especially by rail.
- Finally, also for policy-makers, as competences and responsibilities are spread over a multitude of ministries, departments and agencies, not only at the same level, but also at different governmental levels (EU, national, regional, municipal).
The latter is of key importance to the Belgian Federal government and hence also to BELSPO in providing supportive research: that government is in charge of rail transport, and also of its still national rail freight operator, but at the same time depending on the policies from governments at international (EU) and regional levels. Integrating and coordinating this is the key challenge to be dealt with. It is also the only way to reach the objectives which both the Federal government has put itself, as the ones imposed by for instance the EU but also the ambitions of for instance the Belgian regions.