“Full pipe” for city logistics

Electricity, water and district heating are also transported underground to the consumer. So why should parcels and pallets of pasta or summer fashion continue to fight their way downtown during rush hour? It is time for new concepts that relieve and revitalize city logistics.

One approach is: Off through the tube! The idea isn’t new. But this time it is well thought out. Pallets take a path below streets, intersections, traffic lights and traffic jams. According to Smart City Loop, an underground pipe system is worthwhile for cities with more than 200,000 inhabitants. In Germany there are at least 40 of them. The company has specialized in the development and implementation of such transport systems in urban areas.

The penultimate mile: from the urban hub to the city hub

Tubes with a diameter of four meters are envisaged. There is room for one lane into the city and one lane out. Because empty containers, returns and packaging material have to be returned. A so-called urban hub is being built outside the city, where the large goods distribution centers are located. There the pallets go to the immersion station and are transported through the tube into the city. This is done by a driverless transport system with an electric drive. The overall concept is more inspired by a subway than a taxi. The transport through the tube does not end directly at the recipient’s front door or goods ramp, but at a “train station”, which in this context is called a City Hub.

The logistics company calls the distance between the urban hub outside and the city hub in the middle of the city the penultimate mile. The length of the point-to-point connection naturally depends on the location of the hubs. A tube up to five kilometers long is realistic. For the last mile from the City Hub, the forwarding agent who handed over the goods to the tube outside the city gates is again responsible. This fine distribution, let’s say for the remaining two to three kilometers to the recipient, is ideally done by electrically operated small vans or cargo bikes with electric motors.

For example Hamburg

And when will be delivered through pipes? In Hamburg, for example, the search for suitable real estate for urban and city hubs has official support. We are talking about a system that moves around 2.7 million pallets every year. “According to our calculations, a pipe system with two urban hubs and two city hubs could transport a quarter of the volume that goes into the city of Hamburg,” says Christian Kühnhold, managing partner of Smart City Loop. A feasibility study for the Hanseatic city is available. Kühnhold: “In the past it has often been argued that underground transport systems are too expensive or not feasible. The feasibility study for the city of Hamburg clearly showed that this is not the case. “

“Good prospects for #CityLogistics. Pallets and packages travel through an underground tube into the city.“

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The users of the tube pay a transport fee. “Our system should carry out the transport for classic freight forwarders at least cost-neutrally, it will be cheaper for parcel service providers”, determined Kühnhold and his team. The one who definitely saves is the environment. Per pipe system there should be a decrease in carbon dioxide by 10,000 tons per year. This corresponds to what is incurred in a 100 million kilometer car journey. Not to mention the road relief!

Are tube systems to relieve inner-city traffic more than just an ambitious wish?

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