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The importance of consolidation efforts in dense cities

Friday, November 8, 2019

The future sees us moving towards dense cities with more deliveries and more people. It is therefore hugely important to form collaborations that consolidate the transport of freight and people. We need to work more closely with our neighbours within our own city, region and country, as well as within the Nordics.

These were the topics on the agenda when CLOSER and the Swedish Transport Administration hosted the conference “Climate friendly city logistics in the Nordics”.

City logistics professor Michael Browne, University of Gothenburg, explains the importance of learning from each other and to not see boundaries in that our cities look different in different parts of the world. “We should look pass these boundaries and differences and be better in finding the similarities and possibilities outside our cities and projects and work closer together,” states Browne. 

Browne expresses the importance of the complexity of these issues, and that we need to make all the stakeholders work towards the same goal from the outset. If we do this, we can also utilise the different transport solutions when transporting both goods and people.

This is one of the largest challenges but also the solution to many of our problems, this as we have more goods but also people that move today than ever before. Space is limited, and therefore important to value, but something we need to consider how we use it; freight trucks actually need to be a part of the calculation for example,” says Browne. 

Browne explains how the Nordic countries listen to each other’s points of view, which is a great advantage in the question of how to learn from other cities. Another positive aspect that Browne, who also works in Great Britain, noticed in Gothenburg is that corporate and public sectors work in a much closer way than he is used to in London.


The Swedish authority for community planning, construction and housing (Boverket) has been given an assignment from the Swedish government to map the physical planning management of freight-related transport, and propose possible measures after subsequent analysis. The development of a national guide to develop planning and coordination of freight transport is also included in this assignment. This is targeted at municipalities, county councils and regional bodies and aims to facilitate local and regional infrastructure planning. 

It is planned to be ready early 2020 and is a document that is much awaited from the municipalities as there is a lack of knowledge about freight among planners in municipalities in Sweden today,“ expresses Magnus Jacobsson, Boverket. 

In Norway they have encountered the same obstacles as in Sweden, and through the Norsulp project, a row of workshops was conducted that revealed the municipalities' need for guidelines.

So even if Michael Browne can see the Nordic Countries are good at working together, they can still be better at working together with businesses and listening and learning from each other’s experiences. Both the report from the Swedish authority Boverket and the nationally-funded project Norsulp in Norway, will contain examples and facts to make it easy for the municipalities to use. 

Urban Freight Consolidation 

An area of great interest is consolidations centres and two experts within this area are Louise Larsson, Älvstranden Utveckling, based in Gothenburg and Tale Ørving, Institute of Transport Economics Oslo. 

Larsson explaines that urban consolidation is one key to solve urban logistics in today´s society where the need of freight logistics is growing fast. 

 “How we solve the need for transportation is key, when constructing the dense cities, but not for the sake of the transports, but rather to create a sustainable and attractive city where people want to live,” Larsson continues. 

She explains the importance of solving the last mile problem. This is exactly what they are doing in the Lindholmsleveransen 2.0 that is a part of the DenCity project. This consolidation solution will consolidate and deliver goods to private people, businesses, academies and public sectors situated in the Lindholmen area. (An area within central Gothenburg that is large as a small city.)  As the test is a part of the DenCity project where both postboxes and urban waterways are solutions that are tested, future plans involve investigating the possibilities to connect to these solutions as well. 

Ørving has been a part of creating a solution called the Oslo City hub, a consolidation centre that is based just outside Oslo. It made of movable sea containers that take less than one month to build. Today it has a strategic location next to the main road, but if this had proved not to be a successful location, it would have been possible to move it. Ørving is convinced that this project's success is due to its great public support, its simple and flexible design and the fact that they found a great location from the outset. An additional factor was the good composition of involved partners regarding issues of competence and trust.

A question that is often debated is whether centrally situated locations should be occupied by a consolidation centre. Ørving has a solution that means rescue areas in a city can be used for the “Oslo City hub solution”, e.g. in Paris they have used former gas stations that are no longer in use. 

To see the presentations and download the PPT