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The Cargo Tram: Current Status and Perspectives, the Example of Brussels

Sustainable Logistics

ISBN: 978-1-78441-062-9, eISBN: 978-1-78441-061-2

Publication date: 4 December 2014



The purpose of this chapter is first to establish a state of the art about cargo tram, in order to understand its opportunities and constraints. In a second step, the aim is to add an often overlooked spatial dimension in the analysis, which may offer a renewed insight into the issue and extend the understanding of the potential use of urban light rail for freight.


The first step of the analysis is carried out through a study of the literature. In particular, the potential use of cargo tram for the various urban supply chains is evaluated. The aim is to establish a European state of the art on urban light rail use for freight. Then, to concretise these elements and to add an empirical geographical approach, the Brussels situation is studied in detail.


This combination of a theoretical analysis and a field approach of the case of Brussels allows us to lead an original study. Obstacles, opportunities and interest for the implementation of cargo trams are specified. In addition, the use of geographical approach gives a new point of view since most of the publications in this field are based on economic or technical approaches.

Practical implications

This study may help public and private actors involved in urban freight matters, as well as public transport companies, to better understand the issues related to cargo trams. In a context where this transport mode is promoted and discussed in a growing number of cities and urban supply chains, it is useful to get an objective synthesis and a prospective analysis on this topic. This research may also have social implications in the way it helps to define a more sustainable urban logistics.


The originality of this research is related to the combination of a theoretical and empirical approach, to the link that is made between urban supply chains and capabilities of cargo trams and finally to the prospective study on the Brussels case. Indeed, because of the novelty of the topic, there are very few studies, either ex-post or ex-ante.



Strale, M. (2014), "The Cargo Tram: Current Status and Perspectives, the Example of Brussels", Sustainable Logistics (Transport and Sustainability, Vol. 6), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 245-263.



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