Synchromodality has evolved in the past 5 years as an innovative technological and organizational concept for freight transport services, presenting itself as the next stage after the intermodal freight system that is now in place within the Netherlands. Building on physically interconnected networks and interoperable services, the actual synchronization of intermodal operations would now be achieved by strongly improved information and communication technology, supported by automated planning and booking systems. The Netherlands is an ideal testbed for the synchromodality proposition, because of the dense network of infrastructure of 3 modes of transport, and over 30 transshipment terminals in the intermediate hinterland of two of Europe’s major ports. Together, these could potentially offer a robust and flexible network, once operations would be synchronized along and across the different multimodal corridors.
The development of new synchromodal network control concepts that allow operationalizing this vision is a formidable task, requiring substantial R&D efforts. The research reported in the literature on this subject is very young, and systemic questions concerning the functioning of a market for synchromodal services have only been addressed partially. The main mission of this program is to strengthen the research base needed to allow demand for and supply of services to interact in a market of synchromodal services.