TRB AT045 Intermodal Freight Transport Committee
International research exchange with the Transportation Research Board

The Transportation Research Board (TRB) is part of the American National Academies, conducting research and providing expertise in the field of transportation It assembles a diverse array of experts, bridging various domains to tackle the intricate challenges of the transportation sector. From elevating road safety to pioneering sustainable and efficient transport systems, TRB is working towards reshaping the future of transport worldwide.

Within the TRB, the Intermodal Freight Transport Committee AT045 includes all aspects of research pertaining to intermodal freight transport, including rail-water, rail-highway, highway-water, and highway-air modal combinations, but other combinations are also of interest.

In 2022, Prof. Ralf Elbert was appointed as international member of the AT045. As such, he is furthering the international exchange and bridging the activities between the committee and the WCTRS SIG B3 .

Picture: Canva/Pexels/Tom Fisk

International Research Cooperation to enhance Intermodal Freight Transport

For the first time in 2022 and for the second time in 2023, AT045 and SIG B3 cooperated to hold sessions pertaining research around intermodal freight transport.

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Conference Visits at TRB Annual Meet and WCTR


Innovative solutions are needed to promote combined freight transport (CT) in Germany. At the annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board in Washington DC, USA, Hongjun Wu reported on how rail freight transport can be improved. With the aim of making train rotations more efficient, we are working together with the MegaHub Lehrte as part of the research project “KV-Hub” .

Raphael Hackober also presented the research work on barriers to innovation in European rail freight transport in a poster session in order to gain a better understanding of the current challenges in rail freight transport.


With an eye on digitization and innovation in intermodal freight transport, Prof. Elbert, Johannes Rentschler and Felix Roeper attended the 16th World Conference on Transport Research (WCTR) in Montréal, Canada, from July 17 to 21, 2023, and provided insights into two research projects.

Prof. Elbert and Johannes Rentschler talked about the potential of reliable dynamic “Estimated Time of Arrival” (ETA) forecasts in intermodal transport. Special attention was given to the benefits for SME forwarders and the promotion of flexibility and sustainability of intermodal transport chains.

Prof. Elbert and Felix Roeper presented research on how truck platoons in road freight transport can be planned in a decentralized way using AI developed by Deep Reinforcement Learning to reduce costs and emissions in road freight transport.

On the topic of synchromodal transport chains, i.e. synchronized and interconnected transport networks that allow a change of transport mode in real time, Prof. Elbert and our research associate Johannes Rentschler had the opportunity to speak at the Annual Meet of the Transportation Research Board in Washington, D.C. in the USA. Together they presented their research results on the potentials of synchromodal transport, collected together with Felix Weber, in the session “Current Research in Intermodal Freight Transport”.


As part of the WCTRS Virtual Meet 2022, Prof. Ralf Elbert, as Chair of the WCTRS Special Interest Group B3 “Freight Transport Operations and Intermodality”, together with his team, organized two sessions on “Climate Change – The role that freight transport can play to avoid emissions”. In collaboration with the TRB AT045 Intermodal Freight Transport Committee for the first session and with the participation of numerous international guest speakers at both sessions, promising initiatives to reduce/avoid emissions in freight transport were identified and evaluated.

As part of the Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting, Johannes Rentschler presented his research “Combined Hub Location and Service Network Design Problem – A Case Study for an Intermodal Rail Operator and Structural Analysis” on January 10, 2022 in Washington D.C., USA.


On 22.09.21 Prof. Dr. Ralf Elbert and M.Sc. Felix Roeper presented their first research results on the ongoing research project “Exchange platform for time windows” at the 3rd Innovations in Freight Data Workshop of the Transportation Research Board. Especially the possibility to exchange time windows on a cross-provider data platform was the focus of the presentation.


From May 26, 2019 to May 31, 2019, the fifteenth annual World Conference on Transport Research was held in Mumbai, India. The Chair of Management and Logistics was represented with two presentations at the conference. On the one hand, Prof. Dr. Ralf Elbert and Christian Friedrich presented their current research on “Urban consolidation and cargo bikes: a simulation study” in the session on Urban Goods Movemen. On the other hand, Prof. Dr. Ralf Elbert and Jan Philipp Müller presented in the session Intermodal Freight Transport their contribution on “Network planning and design in multimodal transportation under consideration of uncertainty”.


Prof. Elbert participated in the 14th World Conference on Transport Research in Shanghai which took place from 10th July to 15th July at Tongji University of Shanghai. The latest research results of the division of management and logistics about combined traffic were shown in the presentation “Intermodal Freight Transport and the Mode Choice Decision: Perceptions of Decision-Makers to Modal Shift”. Furthermore, talks with the German-Chinese Academic Association (CDHK) of the Tongji-University were conducted in order to start and intensify cooperations.


From 15th until 18th of July 2013 the triannual “World Conference on Transport Research (WCTR )” took place for the 13th time. Chosen from more than 1000 submitted research themes, Prof. Elbert and Mr. Pontow presented their research topic “Standardization and Integration of Information Flow Along the Maritime Transport Chain”. According to the presentation in Rio de Janeiro this article was selected by the peer reviewer for publication in the conference proceedings.