Safety assessment of trans-boundary and multi-modal hazardous material transportation: concept development

The problem addressed

The study aims to answer the question whether an innovative concept that may in future research lead to technological development and valorization, is acceptable and feasible. The concept to be explored and developed concerns the complex problem of assessing the safety risks of trans-border and multi-modal hazardous materials (hazmat) transportation within Europe. The problem is complex due to the diverging practices and approaches currently used in the different European Member States to assess hazmat transport safety risks. Furthermore, the problem also reflects the fact that a choice can be made by the hazmat transport shippers about what transportation modes to use, to transport dangerous goods from location A (origin) to location B (destination): inland waterway, pipeline, road and/or railway. Depending on the specific chemical substance or mixture to be transported, the amounts of substance/mixture to be transported, the legislation of the mode, infrastructure characteristics, and many other parameters, a decision will be made by the shipper. This study develops a novel usable(/acceptable) concept helping the shipper to obtain a clear view of the various risks accompanying the different possible routes per transport mode and across the transport modes, thereby, amongst others, considering the various models/approaches used in the various European Member States. The Delphi methodology will be applied to develop the concept and to assess the acceptability of the concept. The study will also provide recommendations on how and what technology may be developed in future research, in relation to the concept.

Keywords: multimodal hazmat transport

Research questions

Key research question: Is it possible to develop a concept that facilitates transportation planners/shippers in their
trip planning of international and multi modal hazmat transportation activities, and what elements should be part of an acceptable concept?

Sub research questions (RQ)
  • What elements should be part of a concept for the safety assessment of multi modal international hazmat transportation activities?
  • Which country-specific (Germany, Netherlands and Belgium) safety factors should be part of the concept?
  • What makes the concept acceptable for transportation planners and policy makers in Germany, Netherlands and Belgium?

Keywords: trip planning

Expected outputs

Our concept, once realized in a working tool, facilitates shippers of hazardous materials to take into account in their trip planning the aspect of safety. (S)he is able to reckon for country-specific guidelines (trans-boundary) and transport modes (multi modality).
In particular, transport planners /shippers of hazmat are interested in the results. They may use these results for their specific core activity: transporting hazardous materials form origin to destination in a robust, efficient, environmental and safe way. Part of ‘a safe way’ is the transport modality being used as well as the corridors/infrastructures that are used. In addition, land-use planning and policy makers could use the results in their task to assess and coordinate hazmat transportation in their country.
In case our concept is realized in a working tool for trip planners, and broadened to other Member States as well, it will have a huge impact on safe transportation of hazmat across Europe. Individual shippers namely, could reckon for safety in their trip planning in a more comprehensive way than nowadays, taking into account national guidelines and transport mode specific safety elements.


WP 1: Preliminary description of the concept
The concept is further elaborated and described in more detail. This implies that we discuss the idea with experts in the hazmat transportation field in several European countries. To this, TNO, TUDelft and BAM will initially delineate the concept development to three countries: The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. These are European countries with substantial (petro)chemical industries (Rotterdam and Antwerp harbor area, Ruhrgebiet, together forming the huge ARRRA chemical cluster) and their transportation infrastructure is part of several of the 9 TEN corridors. Consultation of several experts and formulating our own ideas results in a description of the general concept for safety assessments of trans-boundary and multi modal hazmat transportation.

WP 2: Operationalization of general concept
The general concept that has been developed in WP1, is operationalized for different Member States (B, NL, and D) in this WP2. The operationalization concerns the determination of the different approaches, models, parameters used in the countries. A workshop including the national hazmat transportation experts will be invited. To this end, in preparation, we will conduct a literature study. The aim is to have a list of elements that should be part of the
safety assessment concept, and to have develop international consensus.

WP 3: acceptability assessment
To develop international consensus, we apply the Delphi methodology. The determination of the risks and hence the risks of the various trajectory and transport modes is not only a matter of scientific research. In addition, it should be accepted by the international stakeholders as well. Our Delphi exercise consists of 6 steps:
Step 1: identification of experts
Step 2: 1 st round of posing questions to the experts
Step 3: processing the results of step 2
Step 4: 2nd round of posing questions to the experts
Step 5: processing the results of step 4
Step 6: proposal for risk indicators and consensus

WP 4: Final description of the concept
The Delphi exercise results in proposals for adjusting the preliminary concept of safety assessments of trans-boundary and multi modal hazmat transportation. In the work package, we will integrate the Delphi proposals in the final concept. TUDelft, BAM and TNO will gather in joint meetings, working on the concept in 2 stages:
  • initially to integrate the proposals in a country specific part (Belgium, Germany, and The Netherlands)
  • subsequently to integrate the country specific aspects of the concept in the general concept for of safety assessments of trans-boundary and multi modal hazmat transportation

Participating researchers

Andreas Rogge (Safety of structures department, BAM, Germany) — project coordinator

Nils Rosmuller (Urban Environment & Safety, TNO, The Netherlands)

Genserik Reniers (Safety & Security Science Group, TUDelft, The Netherlands)

Funding organizations

TNO (The Netherlands)

BAM (Germany)

More details

Duration 2015-04 to 2018-04
Contact email
More information

Information last updated on 2017-02-02.

Return to the list of projects.